The Missionary Mandate Newsletter

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Harvest: Fighting Hunger with Hope in Tuscaloosa

At last! These are the words that filled our mind as we approach the devastated Holt community to deliver the much needed emergency supplies.  On Friday, June 10th, the drive was long and slow with the weight of the U-Haul trailer being tugged by our little V-6 Chey engine.  We were delighted to arrive only to learn that many of the Tornado families were being evicted from the shelters. It was both a happy time and a sad time for us after all of the investment made to help those families suffering from this unforeseen disaster.

The Holt center was well managed by volunteers from cities all across the United States, including youth from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corp., adults Sonny and Connie who members of “By the Grace of God Ministry.” Janille a local resident who has been volunteering since the Tornado hit the area, served as the manager of this site. Janille was very attentive to every detail, making sure that supplies were being distributed to those in need, verifying FEMA ID’s and assuring that families who need help got support.

Janille, Mia, with AmeriCorp Volunteer Bree'Anna

For the many families that received help from agencies such as FEMA, United Way or the Red Cross, would only last a few weeks and there was no long-term plan, leaving many to wonder how they  would survive until recovery is complete.  Even with the cash support there were very few places open within walking distance to buy products. And since most of the poor lost whatever transportation they owned, getting to areas where shopping is available, is almost impossible.

Janille and others unloading supplies
However, we also learned that once the news media lose interest and the cameras are no longer in the area, so goes much of the support from government agencies. Some of the hard hit poor areas are still without any strategic plan for recovery.  The Holt Relief Center, we were told was the only place attempting to remain involved in assisting the victims for the long term.  The rumors were flying, as usual that the disaster needs has been met for the poor in Tuscaloosa. But, in speaking with those in the Holt community and the volunteers working at the emergency relief site, this is certainly not the case.

Dustin: AmeriCorp volunteer unloads supplies
Our contribution hardly made a dent in the enormous amount of help that is needed in this area of town. But, we were so proud to see the smiles in the volunteers and families who were blessed by our delivery of emergency supplies. Even with the help, I was told that the center would be empty by the end of the day, but in spite of the challenges they promised to be there for the long term.  If it is the Lord’s Will, so will we.

Tuscaloosa Fire  Department
Tornado victim looking for clothes

(r) Sonny with "By the Grace of God Ministry"

"MG" - AmeriCorps volunteer shares her experience at the Holt Relief Center

AmeriCorp volunteers sorting supplies

Dustin: taping storage boxes

Tornado path next to Holt Relief Center

Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the workers are few;  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV)

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