Northwest ACS DR Volunteers Join Relief Efforts
Update 9/13 — WWU Athletics Helps Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts
In the wake of destruction, the University of Houston (UH) challenged each collegiate athletics program in America to donate apparel that UH could distribute to the victims of August’s category 4 hurricane. Paul Starkebaum, Walla Walla University (WWU) sports information director, and Jordan Stimmel, WWU interim athletic director, decided to participate. Within a few days, WWU had shipped a box of new athletic apparel that contained shorts, flip flops, and about 30 T-shirts.
During the last week, Adventist Community Services Disaster Relief (ACS DR) volunteers throughout the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) have been torn between increasing storm devastation needs far to the east and the potential of wildfire recovery efforts close to home.
At this point, the loss of primary residences to forest fires has been minimal, so warehouse management, the customary strong point of ACS DR experience, has not been a current need in the Northwest.
However, Oregon Conference ACS DR was one of two faith-based organizations asked to send staff to the Eagle Creek Fire emergency operations center in Troutdale, Ore., during the past week. Laura Pascoe, Oregon ACS DR coordinator, says they worked alongside the Multnomah County volunteer agency liaison to accomplish several tasks, including:
- Planning community meetings in areas of need and informational press conferences;
- Helping direct expressions of generosity to those directly affected by fire displacement;
- Mobilizing other non-profits and faith-based organizations to participate in the community meetings.
A group of ACS DR volunteers from Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) is currently in Houston, helping with a distribution center operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hundreds have flocked to this center for resources. Patty Marsh, Upper Columbia ACS DR coordinator reports: "On their first day at the city of Houston's main distribution center housed in the expansive Adventist World Harvest Church over 400 families came through. One team member emailed during lunch, 'Super busy today — hit the ground running!!' Housed in a 15-mile distant Berean Adventist Church, the volunteers gratefully enjoyed a home-cooked meal before resting in the borrowed Red Cross cots." The UCC Disaster Response team include two women and four men and a variety of ages — one with 25 years police dispatch experience, a former ACS Disaster Response director, the former NPUC Disaster Response director, IT specialist, a retiree who gave weeks to the Calgary floods of 2015 & Alberta fires of 2016, and a graphic designer who owns his business.
Montana Conference ACS, led by Gabriel Laub, is assembling kitchen start-up kits for distribution to those who have been affected by the extensive fires within the state. The project will begin with 10 families and continue as needs arise. They are also collaboring with the Red Cross on shelter operations.
Adventist ACS DR personnel from the Southwestern Union and beyond have partnered with many other civic, non-profit and faith-based organizations to reach out to the growing needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
And now, in addition, Hurricane Irma’s recent devastation and resultant flooding will stretch all support organizations to respond. ACS DR personnel in Florida, the Carolinas and throughout the Caribbean islands are currently assessing the needs and evaluating how Adventist volunteers can provide the most efficient help. More details will be forthcoming soon.