SBTC DR feeding volunteers assist at El Paso crisis center: ‘The feel of it is really amazing’
August 12th, 2019 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
EL PASO Within a few days of the tragic Aug. 3 shootings at an El Paso Walmart that claimed 22 lives, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief feeding volunteers headed to the area to support Salvation Army efforts serving first responders, victims’ advocates and other crisis personnel.
The first SBTC DR volunteers arrived Aug. 7, including Ronnie and Connie Roark of Salem-Sayers Baptist Church near San Antonio. The Roarks frequently man SBTC’s quick response kitchen, but for this deployment they left the quick response unit behind and drove to El Paso to help staff the Salvation Army’s mobile kitchen.
The Salvation Army feeding unit was moved from the Cielo Vista Mall, near the Walmart, to the El Paso Convention Center, where city and county authorities have established a grief counseling and support center.
Local restaurants, businesses and grocery stores are sending over meals, snacks, bottled water and supplies, so the Roarks at first busied themselves with replenishing the food and snack tables and making coffee for first responders and others at the convention center.
“I guess you could call us hosts and hostesses,” Connie Roark told the TEXAN several days after arriving. “We are making people feel welcome.”
When the expected lunch delivery did not occur on Aug. 8, the Roarks joined United Way and Salvation Army volunteers and staff to make sandwiches.
Tom Mathis of Flint Baptist Church arrived to assist the Roarks that same day. Another feeding team from Flint Baptist was due to rotate in next week to relieve the volunteers, SBTC DR Director Scottie Stice confirmed.
Roark described the atmosphere at the convention center as “very calm,” adding, “They have lots of support people here. They are all pulling together. The feel of it is really amazing.
“We were the advance team—just to be here to help any way we could,” she said.
The team started preparing meals in the Salvation Army’s mobile kitchen Aug. 9, cooking enchilada dinners for 200, Ronnie Roark said. The feeding volunteers will continue preparing lunches and dinners.
“We are so saddened by this horrific crime in El Paso but we praise God for this opportunity to serve and ask God’s blessings upon El Paso and upon the victims and their families,” Stice told the TEXAN, referring not only to the feeding volunteers, but also to SBTC DR chaplains who have arrived to help.