MBC Disaster Relief training draws large number of volunteers
By Brian Koonce
October 18, 2005
BRAGGADOCIO – The golden rule for disaster relief volunteers is to be flexible, flexible and more flexible. Apparently that goes for the training as well.
When 74 people showed up at First Baptist Church, Braggadocio to learn how they could lend a helping hand in a catastrophe, they immediately began their first lesson in being flexible. There was no electricity, and the mobile kitchen used to prepare and distribute thousands of meals a day was in service hundreds of miles away in Louisiana.
But power was soon restored and despite the absence of the 60-gallon kettles and beyond-commercial-grade cleaning equipment of the mobile feeding unit, the weekend training went on with courses in chainsaw, chaplaincy and feeding taught by veteran volunteers, sometimes less than 24 hours removed from serving in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.
The annual training event was hosted by the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Southeast Region and endorsed by the American Red Cross. The volunteers learned not only how to safely handle a chainsaw, but how to properly fell a tree when – as often is the case in a disaster – it is under pressure or leaning against a structure. Chaplains studied the various ways to minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of disaster victims, not to mention other volunteers, while the kitchen trainees learned just how complex providing thousands of meals a day with more health regulations than the average restaurant can be by cooking dinner for the other trainees, still without their kitchen.
Most of the volunteers were of retirement age, which allows them to respond in a disaster without taking off work. Still there were some younger volunteers such as 26-year-old Misty Crain, of First Baptist Church, Doniphan.
“We had a couple in our church go, and I thought this would be an amazing opportunity to minister to people in this great time of need and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “I’m looking forward to actually going out and doing this for real.”
The devastation left by Hurricane Katrina and the need for a long-term response has sparked an interest in Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief efforts, as evidenced by higher-than-normal attendance. Some newly trained volunteers signed up to staff the kitchen deployed to Louisiana as early as this week.
There will be another disaster relief training workshop March 17 and 18 in Marshall.