Disaster Aid Ohio makes ‘love thy neighbor’ its mantra

Disaster Aid Ohio makes ‘love thy neighbor’ its mantra

Image Credit: Dave Mast

In the 22nd chapter in the Gospel Book of Matthew, Jesus answers the Pharisees question of the greatest commandment with these words:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

For the volunteers who reach out in compassion to their neighbors as part of the volunteer team with Disaster Aid Ohio, these two commandments are at the heart of serving.

Anyone who has taken time to watch an army of ants work together to solve problems and take care of the workload as a unit understands the value of a team working together to create a successful outcome.

That same type of experience is exactly what Disaster Aid Ohio provides as it sweeps through areas that have been plagued by natural disasters to lend plenty of hands for cleanup efforts.

That scenario reared its ugly head on June 14 when straight-line winds that roared at close to 100 mph slammed into Holmes County.

DAO immediately stepped into action, sending out volunteer teams with a 2-mile radius of Benton, one of the hardest hit areas, where team members supplied chain saws, blowers, front-end loaders, skid steers and other smaller machinery to help the cleanup process for families who were facing months of cleanup following the storms.

Of course, while the equipment was very handy, what it really takes for those who volunteer for DAO is a heart to serve.

For area coordinator David Kline, that alone spurs the organization to step into a void and provide cleanup relief, whether it is close to home or other states. Wherever there is heartache following a natural disaster, the DAO is there.

“Basically, every night except Tuesday night (June 28), we’ve had teams working somewhere in the area,” Kline said. “The first day we worked was the Friday evening after the storm.”

Kline said word of mouth was the way most of the property owners who were hit hard were put on the work list. He also said there were a couple board members who canvassed the area and made contacts with people, creating a list of properties the teams could aid.

He said those leads were investigated, and a determination on the type of manpower and equipment needed at each home was made.

From there Kline said he contacted Albert Troyer in Sugarcreek, who was doing much of the coordinating since people and groups were contacting him to offer their help. Correspondences were made, and the groups, many of them from area churches in Holmes, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties, were lined up to help.

“Albert’s done a phenomenal job of coordinating and getting people where they need to be with the right equipment,” Kline said. “It takes a lot of coordination, and above all, it takes a great deal of compassion from people who want to serve others and help in any way they can to ease the struggles of people they don’t even know.”

Kline said it was inspiring to hear from people calling in to volunteer, some who worked during the day, others who came in during evenings.

The gratitude from those blessed with each volunteer crew’s work was made evident at each stop. Kim Kellogg, owner of Grasshopper Property Maintenance in Benton, posted on Facebook, “I have helped at times going to aid with disaster relief. I never thought we would be in need and blessed by an amazing crew who put a huge dent in our damage. Thanks isn’t nearly a good enough word.”

Those sentiments rang true from recipients of these selfless acts of kindness and compassion at each stop.

Kline said it has been inspiring to watch volunteers roll into a property and go to work. Kline said the teams exemplify the heart of a community that thrives on helping others during stressful times.

“We almost take for granted sometimes what we have here,” Kline said.

“I think this type of service is a true witness from our community,” said homeowner Dave Mast, who had a relief team come in and do work on June 28. “We feel so blessed to be recipients of all this love and compassion. We can never say thank you enough.”

The 30-member group working at his house all were from a church in Maysville. The team wasted no time in getting to work, removing trees, cutting up logs and brush, and blowing small twigs and leaves into large piles that were burned.

After a hard night’s work, the volunteer team was treated to hot dogs, root beer floats, chips and baked goods, and they were able to relax and fellowship before heading out.

Kline said that type of fellowship is a byproduct of people who desire to serve, and it helps church groups and communities grow closer together.

“It’s all about helping each other, something God desires of us,” Kline said. “In the process we grow closer to him and to each other. What takes place is a gift of compassion and an outpouring of love for our neighbors.”

Kline said the work was far from finished, and more crews would be out and about working and serving in the coming days.

For those whose lives were touched by the acts of compassion, these days will not soon be forgotten.