Two days after the flood, we started a fund to purchase diapers, wipes, baby food, and formula for victims of the flood. The first gift to that fund was $8,000. Our initial expectations were limited. All we knew was this: we had to do something, take action, offer what we did have to those who didn’t have anymore.
We unloaded the contents of our church trailer into the church office and filled it with supplies we’d purchased. When we made our first rounds to three local shelters, we quickly heard about other things they needed, like hot meals.
So, we committed to prepare and serve breakfast every morning at one shelter. Shanna Sheppard stepped up to coordinate the purchasing and cooking, and our DTC community quickly filled seven volunteer spots from 6-8 am every morning for more than a week to make this happen.
As each day passed and we spent more time talking with families and individuals displaced by the flood, our mission expanded. It seemed like each day we uncovered an additional need. And when we asked you to step in, you did, even when it meant washing 140 loads of laundry.
And people were just as generous with their donations as they were with their time, more generous than we anticipated. Within two days, $8,000 became $20,000; and then $20,000 became $35,000.
All along, we were learning new things about the complexities of escaping poverty when it is exacerbated by unexpected crises. We were also humbled by the fact that no matter how much money we raised or how many times we visited the shelters or how angry we became watching real people with names and stories get lost in system that anyone - rich or poor, dry or wet - would have a hard time navigating.
Because it was obvious that we cared and we could get things done, we were frequently called upon by institutions and individuals to meet whatever short term needs developed. Within days, we were stretched beyond our capacity and we realized that no amount of socks, undies, or hot breakfast plates would create real change. Without a more defined scope, we would end up serving no one and wearing ourselves out.
And so, we paused to consider how we could channel our funds into a more permanent and sustainable solution that would fill a gap in a system we were only beginning to understand. But that wasn’t our only goal. We also wanted to find a way to continue to engage, you, our DTC community in the mission.