The parking lot was littered with people, worn and haggard, sleep deprived and most with only the clothes on their backs. A few pop-up tents sheltered the weary from the rain that kept coming. The man approached the lot, took in the scene and crossed to the front doors of the church. Once inside, he saw what could only be described as a refugee camp. Families and their animals—dogs, cats and birds—lined the halls and filled the foyer and sanctuary. Volunteers distributed water, food and blankets. He searched out the woman leading the shelter and asked about one of his employees—someone he hadn’t heard from in a number of days, ever since floodwaters rose and destroyed communities and lives.
“Well, that’s a first,” thought Shannon Easley, whose husband serves as pastor at Christ’s Community Church off Juban Road in Denham Springs. She had been at the church for 48 hours, sleeping in her husband’s truck, to serve the 750 people who had staggered up. “I’ve had many people searching for relatives, but this was the first employer worried about an employee.”
The year was 2016 and the man was Tee Brown, CEO and president of GMFS Mortgage in Baton Rouge. He was concerned about Lindy Eisenberg, a retail processing manager at his company. Eisenberg had just left the building to grab more provisions for volunteering after losing her own home. Brown just missed seeing her, but he didn’t miss out on recognizing the disastrous state of the situation.
Brown felt called to get involved.
Through Easley, Brown and GMFS provided sheetrock and insulation delivered directly to houses, once the waters receded, so that the rebuilding process could begin. Later, when families returned home and were living out of crates and bags, GMFS distributed 125 new sets of chests of drawers so that families would have a new piece of furniture and a place to put clothes.
This chance encounter began an ongoing partnership between Brown and Easley: Easley and her team are often the first boots-on-the-ground helping during hurricanes and floods, and Brown and GMFS want to support the needy through her endeavors any way they can, though they try to fly under the radar whenever possible.
Read the full story about their efforts and impact on Baton Rouge in the latest edition of Business Report.