August 31, 2011


Trouble seems to come in bunches. The same storm front that produced the tornadoes in north Georgia and southeast Tennessee also caused tornadoes in northeast Tennessee, in the Greeneville area, later in the day. Damage was extensive, and Greene County needed help managing donations. Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) was asked to assist, but the local Methodist Church began doing the distribution, and area coordinator Bob East decided that rather than try to run competition with them, the Adventists would help them.

However, after several weeks, the Methodists wanted to close the operation down. There was, however, still a need to have a location where the building supplies that were just then beginning to come into the area could be sorted, inventoried, and stored for use by the volunteers who were coming in to help with rebuilding the homes that had been destroyed or damaged. AIDNET, the Long-term Recovery Committee for Greene County decided to ask the Adventists to help.

On Aug. 10, chaplain Jan Lefferts, of Takoma Regional Hospital and Treasurer of AIDNET, called Terry Haight, ACS DR coordinator for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference (GCC), and asked if a set-up team could come for about two weeks and organize things there and train local people to carry on after the team left. Haight agreed, and he and Henry Beaulieu, GCC warehouse specialist, met with the AIDNET people and discussed how the operation would be run. AIDNET agreed to cover the costs of the operation, including travel and housing expenses, and Takoma Hospital provided meals for the team.

Space had already been obtained at a huge warehouse located on Industrial Road. The building had no office space, but Jeff Idell, a Baptist and owner of a local construction company, provided a construction office trailer, the Red Cross provided computers, and AIDNET purchased a copy of Quickbooks and a copy/FAX machine, and we were in business. Joining us as part of the team were John and Elaine Veldhuizen, who served as floor manager and office manager, respectively. Bob East, northeast Tennessee regional coordinator, also joined us and agreed to supply local volunteers and someone to manage the operation after the set-up team left. A crew of eight prisoners assisted in cleaning the area and helped

John sorted and organized the items already in the building. Several truck-loads of donated goods were transferred from the Methodist Distribution Center after it closed—the idea being to have all building supplies under one roof. By Aug. 22, Elaine had a complete report of all the things in the warehouse ready for presentation at the weekly AIDNET meeting!

Finding a local Adventist to manage the warehouse after the set-up team left was proving difficult, but Bob East persisted, and produced Jim Clayburn, a retired teacher and member of the Greenville Adventist Church, who came and looked at the project and agreed to take over the operation after some training and on-the-job experience. Jim ran things until the warehouse finally closed and received special commendation from AIDNET for his service.

Again, ACS DR’s reputation for organization and accountability resulted in being the “ go-to” organization for donations management.

It is interesting that just being trained and experienced isn’t always enough. God always provides opportunities, and often miracles, to help us serve His hurting children. He always provides the people needed to accomplish His will, if we are willing to be a part of His team. Anyone willing to become a worker in this field is invited to join ACS DR.