Bap­tist Men vol­un­teers join dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts.

In car­ing for vic­tims, vol­un­teer group finds call­ing in dis­as­ter re­lief

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - By JE­SUS JIMENEZ Staff Writer je­sus.jimenez@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @je­sus_jimz

Rachel and Rus­sell Schieck aren’t sure where they’re go­ing yet, but in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Florence, they’re ready to help.

The hus­band and wife are vol­un­teers for Texas Bap­tist Men, which since 1967 has as­sisted with dis­as­ter re­lief in Texas and other parts of the county and the world. In the days lead­ing up to Hur­ri­cane Florence, the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­gan pre­par­ing to head to the af­fected ar­eas with as­sis­tance.

The Schiecks have more than a decade of ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to dis­as­ter re­lief. Rus­sell started vol­un­teer­ing for the Texas Bap­tist Men in 2002; Rachel be­gan help­ing for the or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2005.

“We just want to show them that we care,” Rachel Schieck said of dis­as­ter vic­tims. The cou­ple has as­sisted in ma­jor tragedies in­clud­ing hur­ri­canes Ka­t­rina and Har­vey.

In prepa­ra­tion for Florence, vol­un­teers with Texas Bap­tist Men loaded equip­ment and sup­plies on trucks that will leave from Dal­las to the Caroli­nas or pos­si­bly Georgia, de­pend­ing on where dis­as­ter re­lief is needed.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s dis­as­ter re­lief teams are pre­par­ing for an es­ti­mated need of 200,000 meals per day. Its largest feed­ing unit has the abil­ity to pro­duce as many as 30,000 meals per day, and it is ready to be de­ployed if nec­es­sary.

Years of vol­un­teer­ing

With their ex­pe­ri­ence, the Schiecks now mainly as­sist with co­or­di­nat­ing the dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts. But that hasn’t al­ways been the case.

Rachel Schieck said that af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, she washed dishes for evac­uees in San An­to­nio. While Rachel was in Texas dur­ing Ka­t­rina’s af­ter­math, Rus­sell was in Slidell, La., help­ing clean up homes dev­as­tated by the hur­ri­cane.

Through­out their years of vol­un­teer­ing, she said peo­ple’s reactions are al­ways mixed.

“Some­times they’re very ap­pre­cia­tive,” Rachel Schieck said. “Some­times they’re an­gry, and we try to love them through the anger. Other times they’re stunned that we would come help.”

Rus­sell Schieck said vic­tims are of­ten sur­prised that they would will­ingly go to help in lo­ca­tions that are of­ten “hot, hu­mid and dirty,” and spend sev­eral days away from their homes to as­sist in dis­as­ter re­lief.

“Peo­ple ask us, ‘Why would you do this?’ ” he said, adding that it’s be­cause as a Chris­tian, it gives him the op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple he would never meet in church. “We know they’re in a frag­ile state. We show them the love of Christ.”

Rus­sell Schieck said it’s in­cred­i­ble to see the dif­fer­ence 24 to 48 hours can make af­ter help­ing some­one. “You see a light go off and they say, ‘I think I can make it from here.’ ”

Full-time mis­sion­ar­ies

The Schiecks are full-time mis­sion­ar­ies, which al­lows them to be avail­able to vol­un­teer for dis­as­ter re­lief at a mo­ment’s no­tice. Rus­sell said he’s thought about tak­ing a “real 9-5 job” be­fore.

“But then I think [about] giv­ing up the free­dom to re­spond im­me­di­ately,” he said.

Through the fi­nan­cial and spir­i­tual sup­port of lo­cal churches and in­di­vid­u­als, Texas Bap­tist Men is able to help in sit­u­a­tions such as Florence and other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, he said.

Rand Jenk­ins, chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for Texas Bap­tist Men, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has 30 peo­ple on standby ready to go to the East Coast.

“It could eas­ily get into the hun­dreds,” Jenk­ins said, de­pend­ing on the storm’s sever­ity. Texas Bap­tist Men will also send some of its shower units to the Texas coast, where a dis­tur­bance in the Gulf of Mex­ico could turn into a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion.

Rachel and Rus­sell aren’t sure where they’ll be in a few days. It could be North Carolina or Georgia, but to them it doesn’t mat­ter.

“Where the Lord needs us, that’s where we go,” Rachel said.

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