As you know by my last weeks blogs, I was visiting these dear friends in Big Rapids, Michigan.
I've known these folks for 50 years! Yet, this past week I found out a few new facts about these wonderful people!
When David was a boy he was part of a organization called "Royal Ambassadors"- a club for boys within the Southern Baptist's- a type of Boy Scouts. Gail belonged to the girls group, which was called The GA (Girls Auxiliary). As young people, they grew accustom to helping others in need.
Now as Senior Citizens, they volunteer their time to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization!
What I didn't realize was how organized and extensive this program is! The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief works hand in hand- and in conjunction with the Red Cross, FEMA, and the Emergancy Manager of the effected city(s)! It not only answers the needs of people in the United States, but anywhere in the World where a disaster happens! (Called Global Relief)
|This is their Michigan team with Donna, who's house flooded out on Jan 29th, 2013.|
The average volunteer's age is 62 years old! There are over 70,000 volunteers! In the photo to the left, David is in the back row, second from the left.
They have everything from Mobile Kitchens that can produce 14,000 meals- Laundry and Shower facilities- Day Care Units- Chain Saw teams- Restoration teams- Rebuild Teams- and Water purification units! These units are huge!
Another heartwarming fact- Through "the Auto Workers", the car companies allow and encourage participation in these efforts and community service! David told me one of Ford's top executives rolled up his sleeves and was out working side by side with the other volunteers!
The volunteers bring cots and air mattresses to sleep on- often working 12-14 hour days! Many times the work is very dangerous! From homes with extensive black mold to homes that are so damaged, they need to be torn down! Before each job, the volunteer group makes a circle and pray- they pray for protection, and they pray for the effected family. During such times, we could all use a prayer or two!
David and Gail were part of the Disaster Relief in Tyler, Mississippi-in the aftermath of Katrina and the flooding in Big Rapids after the flooding of the Muskegon River took many homes. (January of 2013). (I'll add that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was at ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11/2001)
Here David is suited up to do "mud out" or restoration in Boulder, Colorado.
He also took part in Disaster Relief for the flooding in Warren, Michigan. (2014) and the flooding in West Virginia.
David is on standby for the flooding in Columbia, South Carolina. They need to wait for the water to recede to "mud out" the homes effected by the flood. (being called the 100 year flood) I believe there were 92 dams that failed in the state of South Carolina! This is dangerous work for the volunteers, not only because of black mold, but because the sewers are also effected by the flood, sending bacteria and germs where ever the water went. (Thus, the outfit you see David wearing is vitally important to protect him!) Needless to say, each volunteer is extensively trained- not only in the work they need to do, but safety precautions as well.
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is not at these places to preach to the victims, but simply to help and comfort.
The following quote was taken from their website on the history of the Southern Baptist Relief:
Lloyd Jackson of Virginia states, "Disaster relief provides a unique opportunity to translate the message and person of Jesus Christ into flesh and blood as His followers respond in love and compassion to hurting people regardless of circumstances, social status, financial situation, language, political persuasion, theological stance, education or race.
I looked up the definition of a Hero:
A Hero or Heroine is a person of character and noble qualities who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage, bravery, or self-sacrifice- for some greater good.
David, Gail, and all the volunteers of this Disaster Relief program are true heroes and heroines - not only to me, but for every person they have fed, clothed, helped restore or rebuild, and comforted!
My hat is off to you folks. Well done!
Life is truly an adventure! And along the way, if you watch and listen, you will see the Hero and Heroine in every day people!
My Admiration and Love to you, David and Gail!