Partners team up to stock chaplaincy vehicle with emergency supplies

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brown County Emergency Management Coordinator Darrell Johnston (left), chaplain and Precinct 2 Constable Troy Henderson (center) and Linda Lemond, chaplain and president of the Good Samaritan board, are among those helping load supplies into the emergency management chaplain services vehicle Friday morning outside the Good Samaritan building.
Ron Keener, pastor of North Lake Community Church, speaks Friday morning outside the Good Samaritan Ministries building as representatives of the church, Good Samaritan and Brown County Emergency Management Chaplaincy Services stand in front of the building.
Harold Hogan, a pastor, chaplain and Precinct 2 justice of the peace, helps load supplies into the Brown County Emergency Management Chaplain Services vehicle.

A three-way partnership is making sure the vehicle used by the Brown County Emergency Management Chaplain Services stays stocked with supplies including paper towels, napkins, stuffed animals, first aid items, diapers, bottled beverages and hygiene products.

Representatives of North Lake Community Church, Good Samaritan Ministries and the chaplain services gathered outside the Good Samaritan building Friday morning, where dozens of donated supplies were spread across the surfaces of folding tables. After representatives of all of the partners spoke, the supplies were loaded into the vehicle, which was formerly used as an ambulance when it was owned by American Medical Response, the parent company of Lifeguard Ambulance. The company donated the vehicle to the chaplaincy services in June the owners removed it from use as an ambulance.

Rick Phelps, who serves as a volunteer chaplain, said at that time that the vehicle will be used “like a mobile command center for helping people, especially families that are displaced from tornadoes, fires, floods, or if there’s a massive car accident. We’re going to stock it with basic needs like bottled water, diapers, especially, if we’ve got a family with kids that’s been displaced or anything like that.”

Speaking outside Good Samaritan Friday morning, Ron Keener, pastor of North Lake Community Church and a volunteer chaplain, said chaplains have been meeting in recent months to develop a plan. “It came to our attention that we needed to supply this vehicle because it’s empty,” Keener said. “So our church at North Lake stepped up and all that you see here has been provided by North Lake and Good Samaritan Ministries.

“We will keep this stocked in the event that there’s a disaster or an emergency of some kind. We’re announcing today that partnership with Brown County Emergency Management Office, North Lake Community Church and Good Samaritan Ministries.”

Good Samaritan will provide vouchers including food, clothing and housewares to disaster victims.

 Brown County Judge Paul Lilly, who is the Brown County Emergency Management director, said it’s a “team effort. We looked at the areas of need and the Red Cross is available a huge amount of the time. But what if we had two emergencies at once or we needed additional resources, such as a program like this could provide? I searched statewide and I couldn’t find one under emergency management, so as far as I know, we are the first to create a volunteer chaplains program.

 “It’s a fantastic program. Everything you see here is donated. The program just simply wouldn’t exist without the support of our churches.”

Leesa Stephens, Good Samaritan executive director, said, “we are very excited to be able to work with this chaplains group. When they go out to an emergency situation, the level of needs is always great. There are going to be immediate needs, there are going to be ongoing needs, and sometimes the main thing that’s needed right then, may be to give a child a teddy bear to get them through that situation.

“We at Good Samaritan are blessed to be part of the Brown County community. People donate to us and as we have seen at Good Samaritan, often the resources come our way and we’re looking at items (saying), 'we don’t know what we’re going to do with this.' But then very shortly God shows us. Judge Lilly mentioned the Red Cross. We don’t ever want to take the place of organizations that are already in existence, but sometimes the wheels move very slowly, and so we’re here. If there’s a fire, we can help the family immediately with clothes, housewares, if they need food.”

Stephens said if Good Samaritan can’t provide what a disaster victim needs, the organization can refer the individual or family to other nonprofits.

“Brown County’s nonprofit community is amazing,” Stephens said, adding that “public-private partnerships like this work. They really do work.”

Darrell Johnston, Brown County Emergency Management coordinator, said the chaplaincy services “is all funded by donations from the community and churches. It doesn’t cost the county anything other than insurance on the vehicle, which comes out of the emergency management budget. Everything else – even the gas for the truck, repairs – is all donations.”

Justice of the Peace Harold Hogan, who is also a pastor and a chaplain, said he sees a need “all over the community. Good Samaritan has always been a great support system for our community. I think it’s a great collaboration. This is a ministry. I would do this if I wasn’t a JP because my parents always taught us that someone is always less fortunate than you are. And Jesus also told us, the poor will be with you always.”

Keener said chaplains are setting up an on-call system beginning in February.

“We certainly don’t wish that on anybody, but we’re going to be prepared,” Keener said. ”We are now prepared to respond to the crisis in Brown County."