A Louisiana resident who has gone above and beyond to help his neighbors affected by Hurricane Ida received the surprise of a lifetime.
Samuel Mamou, a special education teacher and father of five, was celebrated live on " Good Morning America" Thursday for his work in the community and his selfless acts of kindness.
After Ida tore through Louisiana in August, damaging his hometown of La Place, Mamou rallied his church, New Wine Christian Fellowship Church, to help their neighbors.
Mamou, whose own home was damaged in the storm, led efforts to distribute water, cleaning supplies and food to people in need.
"You can imagine for so many people, it's hot, no water, no power and no food. It can make life very miserable," said New Wine Christian Fellowship Church founder Neil Bernard, who is also Mamou's father-in-law. "Sam is the one getting it all out, making sure that families get water, get food, get cleaning supplies and everything they need to get back on their feet."
- 1September 3, 2021
Mamou's work in the community has inspired many, including volunteer Latanya Eugene, who commended Mamou for showing up to help others each day.
"He can easily say, 'Well, no, I don't want to come down. I have to take care of mine,' but, no, that's not who he is," said Eugene. "He's here at 7:30, 8 o'clock every morning, getting things set up. He's smiling with the people, giving them a smile you know, letting them know things [are] going to be OK."
Another volunteer, Blaine Robertson, called Mamou a "modern-day hero," adding, "We forget to kind of look at the people who are in our lives every day who are really doing the work to help and impact someone else."
Mamou's wife, Kristen, described her husband as someone who always thinks of others first. In addition to their family's home being damaged by the storm, the school where Mamou teaches was also damaged.
"It's just something that he does because he loves to give back," said Kristen. "He loves to help people."
The community came together Thursday to say thank you to Mamou.
Mamou and his family were surprised with a $10,000 check from Sheex, a bedding and mattress company, to help them rebuild their home.
Clorox donated two truckloads of supplies and $20,000 to help Mamou and the New Wine Christian Fellowship purchase more Clorox supplies to continue to give back to the community.
“We can do a lot with this. We can do a whole lot with this," said Mamou. "Thank you so much.”
Retired New Orleans Saints football star Benjamin Watson was also there to surprise Mamou, a huge Saints fan.
Watson surprised Mamou with a jersey signed by NOLA Saints running back Alvin Kamara and tickets for his family to attend a Saints game.
Mamou said in reaction to the surprise that he is motivated to help by his faith, following the motto, "If you handle God's house, he'll handle your house."
"This moment here just shows me once again that if you take care of God’s business, he’ll handle us as well," he said. "I'm just humbled and grateful."
"It’s not just about me, it’s about this team," Mamou added, pointing to the church congregation behind him. "They’ve been helping out every day."
The moment also featured Grammy-winning Gospel singer Tasha Cobbs Leonard, who joined the surprise and performed her song, “Gotta Believe.”