After Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas last August, churches across the BGAV looked for ways to add their support to the Virginia Baptist Disaster Response efforts in Texas. From flood buckets to hygiene kits, volunteering in Liberty, Tx., and donating money to make sure the response could be successful, the generosity has been astounding.
At Woodland Baptist Church (Arrington, Va.), efforts to fill flood buckets and pack hygiene kits kicked off. Church member Robert Saunders, co-owner of Saunders Brothers in Nelson County, approached his co-owners and pledged to match flood bucket and hygiene kit donations, as well as matching monetary contributions.
By the end of the month, Saunders Brothers had pledged more than $7,000 to hurricane relief efforts through Virginia Baptist Disaster Response.
“It all came about because of information that was shared at Woodland,” said Greg McCormick, Woodland’s pastor. “But Robert thought outside the box to take the opportunity and challenge to [our community].”
Robust Fleet Makes Volunteers More Effective
A few volunteers from Cool Spring Baptist Church (Mechanicsville, Va.) responded to a call for assistance with temporary roof repair and chain saw work in Essex County following the February 2016 tornado. Some of those volunteers joined Virginia Baptist Disaster Response in Liberty in late 2017, a second team kicked off the Rapid Rebuild phase in January 2018, and a third team is scheduled to return to Texas mid-April.
Back home, Cool Spring is host to Feeding Unit 11, the original Virginia Baptist Disaster Response kitchen which can now produce up to 15,000 meals per day. The kitchen has served in Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and New York after hurricanes, floods, and the attacks on 9/11.
But the kitchen almost didn’t come to be. For years, Lloyd Jackson, long-time Virginia Baptist Disaster Response staff member and volunteer, sought to include funds for a feeding unit in the Alma Hunt Missions Offering. Every time Jackson requested the funds, his request was denied.
One day, Kathryn Bullard, executive director of WMUV, stopped Jackson in the hall and told him about seeing a feeding kitchen in another state. “Why don’t we have one?” Bullard asked. Jackson shared with her the repeated denial of funds.
Bullard saw to it that the funds be included in the next year’s offering, and the kitchen was fully funded in 1988.
The Virginia Baptist Disaster Response fleet has only grown since the first kitchen, which was completed in 1989 and made its first meal after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The fleet now includes:
- command and communication
- showers and laundry
- four kitchens capable of producing 40,000 meals per day combined
- children’s response
- water purification
Along with all of these physical resources, our Crisis Care Team responds to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of disaster survivors.
Our volunteers from Cool Spring not only host and take care of some of our fleet, they also utilize it in the field. From Clean Up Unit 32 during the response to the Essex tornado to showers, laundry, and bunk units in Liberty, Texas, these volunteers have experienced the fruit of our investments throughout the past 49 years of disaster response.
“Having access to the right equipment and resources that are already in place when we arrive,” says Shane Standlick, team leader and Cool Spring’s missions associate, says about their experience in Texas, “opens up the possibilities of what we can do to help those in need.”
Beyond Cool Spring, Dover Association Joins Efforts
As a member of the Dover Association, Cool Spring is also part of broader relief efforts. In addition to the feeding unit at Cool Spring, a clean up unit is also cared for by members of Corinth Baptist Church (New Kent, Va.) after being built and cared for by folks from New Bethesda Baptist Church (Mechanicsville, Va.).
In 2017, the Dover Association approved a grant from the Dover missions offering to support the continued efforts of our Crisis Care Team. Recognizing the efforts of our chaplains, the association saw fit to provide continued support of this vital ministry.