Catawba County Employee Spotlight
Department: Emergency Services (911 Center)
Disaster Relief Volunteer
Tell us about volunteering for disaster relief. What do you like about it?
I absolutely love serving others in their time of need. There is no better feeling knowing you are helping others in their worst moments. You grow in your faith and as a person during the experience. I’m not a person who would ever be away from home so to jump on a plane or drive 8 hours to spend a week with complete strangers was a bit daunting. I quickly felt “at home” with Samaritan’s Purse staff and other volunteers. We are all there for the same purpose. Yes, for disaster relief but also for a higher calling....to spread the love of God and bring unbelievers to Christ.
When did you get started? What inspired you to start or how did you get started?
In September of 2017 I watched as devastation began to unfold in Texas as hurricane Harvey came ashore. With my background in emergency services I immediately felt the need to go help and began to look for an organization I could respond with. Samaritan’s Purse called me the next day. When can you go? 3 days later I was on a plane to Houston then driving a rental in to Victoria, TX. I spent the next week sleeping on an air mattress in the floor of a church. Waking up at 5:30 to head out in teams to assist homeowners. We would start the day with a hearty breakfast and prayer then head to a residence in need of assistance. We did everything from a task as simple as clearing debris off the property to performing a mud out of a residence. We always take the time to get the know the residents and what they have been through. We pray with them and then the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team along with Samaritan's Purse volunteers present the homeowner with a bible signed by the volunteers with their favorite verse. After leaving Texas I flew to Key West, Fl less than a month later for disaster response to Hurricane Irma. From there it was North Wilkesboro, NC for tornado response, Southside Alabama for tornado response and Greensboro, NC for tornado response. I also traveled to Leogane, Haiti this past July. My team of 7 gave relief to children at Greta Home & Academy ran by Samaritan’s Purse. Greta Home & Academy was established after a devastating 7.0 earthquake in 2010 that destroyed a large part of the infrastructure. I look forward to traveling this year with Samaritan's Purse for disaster relief as well as returning to Haiti in August.
What has been the most impactful volunteer experience for you to date?
Every deployment has been impactful. In every deployment I feel as if I am going to help and bless the people affected. I leave every site knowing I was the one blessed by serving them. One of the most impactful experiences I have had was in Key West, FL. One of the women who served on my team was a resident of Key West. She worked nonstop with us every day. She was at the church from early in the morning until late night helping to cook and clean for incoming volunteers. Later in the week I found out her house was completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma and she had been sleeping at a friend’s house. She never once complained or grumbled about losing everything. She was joyful and happy to be alive. That really puts things in perspective for you.