Faithful Volunteers in Disasters

by Kathy Marson

            Will you volunteer? 
Over 36 volunteers came to clear out the blackened trees. 
Over 320 homes plus barns and outbuildings burned to the ground in the Carlton Complex Fire.

BREWSTER, Wash., October 8, 2014  -   When the Brewster (Wash.) Adventist Church invited people to come in to help clean up after the fire, they weren’t sure how many would come. They asked for people with equipment, trimmers, shovels, wheel barrows, and pick-up trucks. They wanted to clean up and restore the Alta Lake Community and Golf Course following the devastating July firestorm. Fifty homes were burned to the ground in that community alone. Over 320 homes plus barns and outbuildings burned to the ground in the Carlton Complex Fire.

After the fire Lola Mae Worth said, “We had our home but we were in shock, seeing our neighbors suffer their losses was heart-wrenching.”

On cleanup day, teams started arriving. Over 36 people came to clear blackened trees. “The yellow shirts of the Adventist disaster relief workers were soon blackened,” said Lola. “Neighbors began to put on gloves or brought food to help. “The mood changed quickly as each tree fell.”

“Thirty-six people showed up and among them was Calvin Stevenson. Calvin had trained for forklift and chainsaw volunteer work through Adventist community Services (ACS) at the Upper Columbia Conference Office. He is a tree faller and saw mill operator by trade.

Lola’s brother had taken down some trees near her house but over 300 trees around the golf course needed to be removed. Disasters need specific people for specific tasks and Calvin was the only chain saw operator there. He kept the whole team busy cleaning up the trees felled. Overall the count came to 500 trees!

Word got out about the team clearing trees at the golf course and cars came by to see what was happening. Lola said, “What a difference we can make in two days with a positive attitude. Are you prepared for a disaster in your area? I hope you are.”

The goal of ACS is to have teams ready to go whenever there is a disaster. The team needs to be trained so that volunteers are safe as they do the work. Qualified people are needed to train for these teams.

How to Volunteer
Being prepared means volunteers must be in place before disaster strikes. ACS offers classes in Introduction to Disaster Preparedness, Donations Management, as well as training for Chain Saw Ministry. If you want to be a part, contact Doug Venn at (509) 629-8808.

What do volunteers receive for helping out? “It inspired me to want to do a whole lot more for the community,” said Calvin. “It gives me a real sense of value and worth to be able to help other people in these circumstances.” Calvin encourages everyone to be a part of something like this. “The satisfaction of helping others is marvelous.” Calvin spoke to the father of Parker Barth, who owned the community golf course at Alta Lake. “He couldn’t believe we could get this much done. It meant a lot to him,” said Calvin. “That’s enough reward for me.”