December 22, 2007
WAPAKONETA — Jeanette and Terry Tangeman are devout missionaries to folks whose lives have been drowned by rising waters. The Tangemans are members of the Buckland United Church of Christ and have participated in efforts to assist victims of floods in New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss., and northwest Ohio.“You get hooked on it big time,” Terry Tangeman, 63, said. “I enjoy helping the people. I believe as a church member that what we’re to be, what we’re to do is in the Bible and that’s what we do.”The Tangemans are member of the church’s Disaster Relief Team, which helped clean up homes earlier in the year after floodwaters hit Ottawa, Bluffton, Findlay and Shelby. They also organized six trips to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina.“I have a heart for the people,” Jeanette Tangeman, 64, said. “It’s a calling. We’re to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world and that means taking care of people wherever there’s a need. It’s all about the people.”The couple have been traveling to the New Orleans area since November 2005. Hurricane Katrina struck in August of that year.“The first time we went, it looked like a war zone,” Jeanette Tangeman said. “Everything was destroyed. Everything was gone — schools, homes, hospitals, places of employment, where you got your hair done, where you got your coffee. The first time we went, we drove from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon and didn’t see a place that wasn’t destroyed.“It was indescribable,” Terry Tangeman added. “No matter what you saw on TV, it didn’t prepare you for it. The first time, there was no grass, no animals, no sound, no birds and it stunk and everything was covered in mold.”Two more trips to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina are already in the works with the first set to take place in March. The most recent trip was in October.“People say to us, hasn’t that been taken care of,” Terry Tangeman said. “It’s going to be 15 or 20 years before they recover. You just can’t imagine the magnitude. Things are getting better, though. Everytime we go, we see some progress, but it’s very slow.”The Tangemans are seeking volunteers to help out as well as donations.“It’s best to give gift cards to places like Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, CVS and Walgreens,” Jeannette Tangeman said. “They don’t take much room to transport and they allow some dignity for the people. They can choose what they need. Volunteers should be warned. You’ll never be able to go just once. Helping people is addicting.”For information on the Tangeman’s mission effort, which involves people from 10 churches across Northwest Ohio, call Jeannette at 419-657-2196.Terry Tangeman said the best thing about helping people is the hope it produces.“When something happens like a flood, people are lost,” he said. “They don’t know what to do. We give them hope. We can’t solve everything but we give them a place to start.”The Tangemans reside in Wapakoneta and have been married for 3.5 years. They were both widowed. Terry Tangeman retired in 1998 after 31 years of service to UPS. Jeanette Tangeman is a registered nurse and retired pastor.