After the devastating flood in the Midland area, Nancy Keesee, Birmingham First’s disaster response coordinator, quickly initiated the collection of donations to UMCOR, which were greatly appreciated and currently in use helping flood victims. She then reached out to Rev. Anita Hahn at Midland First United Methodist Church. Besides the arrangements to have mission funds sent to UMCOR immediately after the floods, Nancy wanted to provide additional hands-on assistance.
Although Midland First UMC was not damaged, Rev. Hahn said they could use bagged lunches for volunteers helping those who had lost their homes in the disaster. She stated they could also use more hands-on help with assisting flooded homeowners in cleaning out their homes.
Within hours, Nancy and Laura Dickerson, on behalf of Missions and Birmingham First, coordinated and recruited the Tuesday Morning Women’s journey group and the Women of the Word (WOW) Bible study participants to help prepare and deliver bagged lunches. They also promoted the need for volunteers to travel to Midland on-site.
Last week, the Tuesday Morning Women’s study and WOW groups made 200 lunches that were driven to Midland on Wednesday by Jim and Merry Beth Valiquett. A second delivery on Friday was made by Nancy Keesee and Ann Littleton. These donations were delivered to the volunteers and homeowners working on flood cleanup for Midland First UMC members and neighbors.
Saturday was a rewarding day of hard work in Sanford, a village near Midland that was destroyed by the flood. The Kreitz and Dickerson families, Hal Zaima, John King, and Jim Valiquett made the trip north and spent the day working with the pastor and members of Midland First UMC to help their parishioner, Bonnie, clean out the flooded home that has been in her family for more than 70 years. Much has been collected and stored in the home over those years, and most of it was lost due to several feet of floodwater that filled her basement. It was a blessing to sift through and recover water-damaged photos of her kids and grandkids and lay them in the afternoon sun to dry them out in an effort to save them. They helped Bonnie painstakingly go through a lifetime of memories, from her father’s tools and mother’s quilts, to childhood hymnals and grandchildren’s trophies; a stark reminder that what makes a home is the love, family, and the memories it is filled with, and not all of the things.
Midland First is grateful for our help and pass along their thanks, “Birmingham First has been an incredible partner this past week. The lunches have been a blessing and the work crew even more amazing.”
As Bonnie and so many other in the area have been displaced from their homes, we reflected on our feelings of being displaced, unable to be in our church home during this time. We rejoice that the church stands strong. And, whether in the building or not, you – the congregation – brings love and faith into the community.