Volunteers are the heart of Poured Out. Without them, very little would be accomplished. Every volunteer in every situation is special, but the groups and individuals that responded to the tornado disaster in Washington, Illinois, last November were an extra amazing bunch. We had many reasons to be thankful for them:
- The tornado hit just before Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, when everyone’s schedules are already hectic without adding traveling to a disaster site to their “to-do” list. Greatly adding to the difficult conditions, winter set in early in Illinois. It was very cold, and that made working conditions extra tough. But wonderful, hard-working, compassionate people kept coming even in the tough conditions. What great hearts!
- One weekend we had some groups scheduled to come, and the forecast called for heavy snow. We were concerned for the volunteers’ travel and their safety trying to work at snow-covered home sites. It is very hard to avoid stepping on nails or falling into open basements when you can’t see them! So we contacted each group to advise them of the situation. It was humbling to be told “even if we just shovel snow to help, we still want to come.” What servants’ attitudes!
- One volunteer really touched our hearts. He was so moved by one homeowner’s situation that he wanted to provide Christmas presents and dinner for this whole family. He asked for help contacting the family so he could remain anonymous. What a joy to be able to surprise this dear, struggling family with a small mountain of presents!
- One woman wanted to volunteer but didn’t think she could work well outside; she was praying for a way to be of help. After talking to Steve Adams (Poured Out director), she came and served as our cook for a week, fulfilling a huge need for us. She was concerned about everyone working in the cold all day, and determined to make the most nutritious, healthy, and delicious meals she could to boost our immune systems. She even shared all her own home canning with us, spoiling us thoroughly all week! [recounted by Frankie, volunteer cook]
- We noticed one young lady in the front yard of what used to be a home—scattered around the surrounding area. She was distraught and looking lost. Nothing we could say would remove her pain; nonetheless, we introduced ourselves and expressed sympathy. She shared that she was helpless to remove all the debris of her house from the property and haul it away. We were able to say that is exactly what Poured Out was going to do for her. A redemptive relationship began with Michelle that day. Soon she had a cleared lot, and we were able to remove one burden from her heavy load. We love being able to help the Michelles—God is good.
- Sometimes the greatest thing that happens is unplanned. Heritage Wesleyan from Rock Island, Ill., sent a team. We were finishing up cutting trees at one of our scheduled sites. Across the street, a lone man was working with a small bow saw on 8-10 huge piles of branches and brush that had been cleared from the roadway and dumped on his lot. He said it was his daughter’s house and it was the only means he had. When the Heritage crew saw his need, they immediately volunteered to give the extra effort and time that day. The man was overwhelmed when we finished and prayed with him. The Heritage team was a great example of all the teams that did a terrific job helping hurting people and proclaiming God’s love in the process.
Watch a video about Melissa’s story, one of the victims of the Illinois tornado.
Levi Adams serves full-time with Poured-Out.