Adventist Community Services

Working Year-round for Times Like This

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Keene » Even before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the Adventist Community Services Depot in Keene was ready. “Texas and Florida are disaster prone,” Joe Watts, Texas Conference Adventist Community Services (ACS) director, stated. “We need to be ready for these kinds of events.”

Joe and his wife, Sherry, Texas Conference ACS assistant director, have been assisting with disasters for 25 years, 21 years based in Keene. Scheduled to retire for the second time, Hurricane Harvey provided on-the-job training for Marshall and Julie Gonzales, the new Texas Conference ACS director and assistant director.

As soon as they could get vehicles in the area, Joe sent the Gonzales’ to Rockport, Victoria, and San Antonio with 2,000 prepackaged clothing outfits, blankets and comfort kits that included washcloths, towels and toiletries. “For those who had to leave their houses with nothing, the clothing, blanket, and comfort kits were a blessing,” Julie said.

Once residents were able to return to their homes, the next challenge was cleaning the flood water damage. The ACS Depot was ready for that as well as they work year-round to have cleaning kits ready to go. The cleaning buckets include cleansers, soaps, sponges, gloves, masks, trash bags, and other items necessary for the recovery process.

The Watts guesstimate they sent around 4,000 cleaning kit buckets for Hurricane Harvey relief. Adventist churches in north Texas that assisted with funds and volunteered at the Depot include Burleson, Denton First, Joshua, Keene, Killeen, Richardson, Waco Spanish and Waxahachie Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Keene and Joshua Adventist churches gave major donations.

In the Houston area, the Woodlands Seventh-day Adventist Church asked for 240 buckets, sharing that they were coordinating with three other churches and businesses in the area. They set up in a parking lot and started distributing them. Two days later, they asked for 1,000 more. They are just one of the many churches in the Hurricane Harvey zone assisting residents.

Seeing a need to help sufferers establish their kitchens again, Joe requested a grant from Adventist Development and Relief Agency to purchase kitchen kits with basic things such as plates, silverware, pots and pans. What some consider “little things” can bring a tremendous amount of hope to people often discouraged by their loss.

Volunteers and donations are still needed at the Depot in Keene. There are even projects kids can do, such as sorting disposable gloves, with 10 out of a package of 100 going into each bucket.

“I am so impressed by what our members are doing to bring hope to those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Carlos Craig, Texas Conference president, stated. “We cannot thank Joe and Sherry Watts enough for their service with disasters for more than 20 years and so appreciate Marshall and Julie Gonzales’ willingness to now serve in this capacity. They definitely received on-the-job training as they delivered kits and are now assisting with a multi-agency warehouse in San Antonio.”

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