A Community Connection
KEENE, TEX. – When I first joined the Texas Conference 16 months ago as Adventist Community Services (ACS) director with my wife, Julie, as assistant director, my big vision was to involve every Texas Conference Seventh-day Adventist Church in community outreach. I wanted us to be a resource center for our churches to reach the community as well as provide training in community services and disaster response. Three weeks after we started, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas gulf coast. Focused on helping those affected by the hurricane, my vision took a back seat.
Once the recovery process began, we turned our attention to training. This had not been done in a while and the storm caused a renewed interest. Several churches helped those affected in significant ways, but we would like to have more churches and members prepared when the next disaster hits. Texans know that it is not a matter of if, but when.
Training is a key component, almost like a fire drill at school. One hopes the emergency will not happen, but everyone needs to know what to do if it does. In the next five to 10 years, it would be wonderful if we had at least one church member trained at every church to lead the community service program for their church, especially during disasters. We would then have a contact person with an initial team ready to help where needed. As Hurricane Harvey showed us, it was not possible to enter the area right away. Having a connection with our church members in the area helped us know what to prepare for when we were able to enter the area.
We are thankful for the church and school volunteers who come to the Depot in Keene throughout the year to create clothing and hygiene kits and clean-up buckets to distribute. The clean-up buckets are like gold to those trying to clean their houses after a storm.
Join our ACS family in Texas by following us on Facebook at TXACS or visiting Texas-ACS.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering.
We have several training events coming up this year and information is available at TexasAdventist.org/Events.
By Marshall Gonzales, Adventist Community Services Director
Photos by Julie and Marshall Gonzales