Hayden Pastor Janet Babish jokes that her church seemingly has become the Hurricane Katrina Congregational Church because of the attention it has received for the volunteer efforts of some of its members, including herself.
Despite the church's efforts to help rebuild New Orleans, Babish is adamant that the few trips congregation members have made to the region don't define what the church is or what it does. Rather, she said, those missions represent a real-life example of the teachings of the church.
"The basis of why we do it is our faith," Babish said. "You're gathered around a house, you have no idea who lives there, but you're praying over that house. It's incredibly powerful.
Babish was forever changed by what she saw the first time she went to New Orleans to help. The images on TV and the stories in newspapers didn't do justice to what actually was happening, she said.
"After we came back the first time, the only way I could describe it was that it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," she said. "You were heartbroken, but to be together trying to help has bonded me with people in a way that nothing ever has that I've been involved in."
Another group of Hayden Congregational Church members will head to New Orleans again around Easter. And once again, they will work day and night on reconstruction efforts.
Babish, a former stay-at-home mom and volunteer, said she was compelled to lead her church after her "faith came to a strong, faithful point."
Hayden resident Connie Todd has known Babish for 25 years. She said the entire Hayden community is lucky to have someone like Babish.
"Janet is amazing," she said. "With her sense of humor and work ethic, she's just a great person to be around. She really does bring out the best in us."