Brethren Disaster Ministries Celebrates with Pulaski

Brethren Disaster Ministries started its Pulaski, Va., project site in August last year. Since then, several hundred volunteers have given their time to help rebuild what two tornadoes tore down in April 2011.

Photo by Halli Pilcher
Randy Williams (left), pastor of First Christian Church in Pulaski, Va., and Pulaski mayor Jeff Worrell receive a commemorative plaque from Brethren Disaster Ministries at a celebration marking completion of a rebuilding project there. The area of Pulaski was hit by two tornadoes in April 2011, and Brethren volunteers have been among those helping to rebuild homes.

Volunteers who served at the Pulaski site got the pleasure of sleeping in the First Christian Church outreach building. The church graciously donated the use of this building for close to 15 months following the tornadoes. The building was large and comfortable, giving volunteers and project leaders room to relax after working all day, get a good night’s sleep, and cook some delicious meals.

The church members were incredibly kind as well, helping out when needed, inviting volunteers and leaders to church services and events, and even sharing their own stories of the tornado.

Thanks to willing volunteers, donors, the town of Pulaski, and First Christian Church, Brethren Disaster Ministries was able to rebuild 10 houses and repair numerous others.

This November the work in Pulaski was completed. To celebrate, First Christian Church sent out an invitation to all of the volunteers, townspeople, and office workers who helped bring Pulaski back. On Nov. 14 more than 100 people piled into the outreach center for an evening of fellowship, food, and giving thanks.

Randy Williams, pastor of First Christian Church, welcomed everyone and said thank you to a few of the key people who really ran the project. Afterward, Pulaski mayor Jeff Worrell, who is also on the church board, gave his own personal thank you. “A person, I guess, only has one hometown and Pulaski is mine. To see it laid low like it was on April 8, 2011, and then over the past 18 months to see it all come back, to see it rebuilt, a lot of areas better than they were before the tornado–it overwhelms me when I think about it…. There is no way we could have recovered from the tornado without this group.”

Worrell surprised Brethren Disaster Ministries with a check for $10,000 from First Christian Church. The church had decided to “pay it forward” to the next project of Brethren Disaster Ministries, so that the Brethren could continue to rebuild towns like Pulaski.

Zach Wolgemuth, associate director for Brethren Disaster Ministries, thanked the church for the check and for all they did, remarking, “The word ‘no’ isn’t in this church’s vocabulary….  Everything BDM needed they managed to provide for us.” He presented the church with a plaque commemorating its support in rebuilding Pulaski.

The night ended with hugs, tears, and laughter as everyone gave thanks and recalled their time in Pulaski.


— Hallie Pilcher is serving at Brethren Disaster Ministries as a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker.



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