By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Renovations on the home of Anthony Mumphrey completed by volunteers from St. George Church in Baton Rouge unwrapped like a gift exchange.  

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John Blake, contractor and St. George parishioner, left, is pictured with Anthony Mumphrey. St. George members, staff and ministries pulled together to renovate the home of Mumphrey, who has cerebral palsy.  Photo provided by Kristel Neupert  

 

Mumphrey received the gift of being touched by the church community as its members and ministries pulled together to complete the renovation, and St. George received the spiritual gift of learning that “life is good” no matter one’s circumstances.  

“While most people living in St. George Parish recovered from the 2016 flood, Anthony’s home still needed work in the bathroom, kitchen and on his central heat and air conditioning system,” said Kristel Neupert, social responsibility coordinator at St. George.  

“After the flood, contractors were paid to help with his cabinets and install his new AC unit but they never finished the job and left Anthony with jobs half done,” said Neupert. “Thankfully Wanda (Mumphrey ‘s caregiver and 15-year friend) called St. George asking if there were any resources to help him.”  

Neupert and Bryan Theriot, St. George’s Habitat for Humanity organizer, met with Anthony and Wanda and assessed the home’s needs.  

Theriot and Neupert were impressed with Mumphrey’s positive outlook. 

“I think he’s taken what life and health have dealt him and he’s adapted very well,” said Theriot. “We should all adopt his attitude.”  

While determining how much assistance the church would be able to provide Mumphrey, Neupert talked to St. George parishioner J.F. Accardo that same week about the Lion’s Club eyeglass and hearing aide recycling program and other service projects.  

As the two talked, Accardo, also a member of the St. George’s Knights of Columbus Council #4030, said that the council wanted to help with more of the parish’s needs.  

After hearing Mumphrey’s story, the KCs donated $10,000 to help repair the home. The council also donated another $1,000 to buy an oven and stove with the controls at a level where Mumphrey can operate them.  

“I found out (as a youth) Mumphrey had participated in a Lion’s Club camp near Leesville for children with special needs when he was young,” said Accardo. “And now we had a privilege to help him through St. George and its Knights of Columbus.”  

St. George parishioner and general contractor John Blake said the work on the home included modifications. There are wheelchair accessible cabinets, countertop and table.  

“With somebody in his circumstances it’s really hard for them to get things done – the everyday stuff. So we were taking the worry off his back,” said Blake. “It was gratifying seeing him comfortable.”  

Neupert and those involved said even as they served Mumphrey in a physical way, he served them in spiritual ways.  

“He (Mumphrey) said ‘Life is good.’ And that’s what really made me think you know how happy he was about his life … having cerebral palsy, being in a wheelchair his entire life and how he enjoys his life and that life is good,” said Neupert.  

This past January she attended March for Life in Washington D.C., which was themed, “Life is Good.” With details being worked out for the repairs on Mumphrey’s home at that time, it inspired her and others to celebrate every life.  

“A disability can bring challenges, and difficult days, but it can also give some of the gifts. The gifts of patience, humility, determination and strength; learning how to appreciate the small things in life,” said Neupert.  

“With one in five people in the United State having a disability, it’s important to remember that every life is valuable, every life is created in the image of God, and every life has a right to life.”  

Neupert and others working on the project said they were gratified to see the various people and ministries of St. George coming together.  

“Our call for service from the Lord is very clear when he bent down to wash the feet of his disciples and asked us to do the same,” said Father Paul Gros, parochial vicor at St. George, who joined the staff in painting and other tasks. “And as he said in Matthew 25: ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ It’s serving him and others … as Mother Teresa would say, ‘quenching the thirst of others with our love and service.’ ”