Baptist Men volunteers join disaster relief efforts.
In caring for victims, volunteer group finds calling in disaster relief
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.’ ”
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.