'Each table is a small victory' - How volunteers and salvage lumber are helping flood victims

Will Cox (left) places a cup of in front of his dad, Brian, as they test out a table they are building at Nebraska Innovation Studio. The table, built out of reclaimed wood from Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, will be given to a family affected by the flooding this spring.

The idea came to John Ingram when he gathered with his family around their dining room table, but he didn’t know it yet.

This was a couple of months ago, when Nebraska’s rising rivers were forcing people from their homes.

“We were talking about how terrible the floods were, and how sad it was that people were losing everything — and they weren’t able to have a dinner like we’re having,” he said this week. “We were talking about how we could help. That’s what we do as neighbors, as Nebraskans. We help.”

They considered taking time off to volunteer. They talked about what they could donate. Ingram was reflecting on it later, when he thought about the table they’d been sitting around earlier, a table the amateur woodworker had built for his family.

And what a table like that can mean to a family.

“One of the most important pieces of furniture in any home is the dining room table. It’s where they gather together, it’s where they pray.”

The Reclaim Rebuild Restore Project — a plan to enlist other woodworkers to build dining room tables, to donate them to flood victims — started taking shape. Slowly, at first.

Ingram, an associate athletic director at Nebraska by day, looked on campus for help, checking with the volunteer coordinator. But there was no plan in place at the university to donate furniture. He called the Salvation Army. He was told: Sorry, not here.

Try Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. Then he got lucky. His Habitat contact happened to be in Lincoln that day, at Innovation Campus. Full Story>>