By MELINDA WILLIAMS
When tornadoes ripped through Pulaski in 2011, Brethren Disaster Ministries was one of the first relief organizations to lend a helping hand. Eighteen months later, they’re the last to leave.
During its stay, Brethren Disaster Ministries has taken part in the construction of 10 new homes and making substantial repairs to 15-20 more.
Tuesday, the town of Pulaski bid the group farewell by saying thanks through a resolution passed by Pulaski Town Council. Mayor Jeff Worrell presented the resolution to ministry representatives Jim White and Jim Kropff during council’s monthly work session.
“As incredible an event as the tornadoes were, … I think the recovery … has been the really great story,” Worrell said. “For a community to come together and rebuild the way this one did is beyond anything any of us could have imagined.
“If you go up into the affected area, you will see neighborhoods that have been rebuilt and actually look better than they did before the tornadoes. That absolutely would not have been possible without Brethren Disaster Ministries,” he added.
Worrell recalled how when he first met representatives of the group they said they wanted to come help rebuild a few houses and wanted to know if they could stay at the church (First Christian Church in Pulaski).
“I thought they would stay a few weeks and build a few houses and move on; which I thought was a great thing. That was a year and a half ago. They left last week,” said Worrell.
He joked, “Apparently it gets a little boring sitting around at night after you’ve been building houses all day, so they would fix stuff at the church that needed fixing too – stuff that had been broken so long it had become part of the church. I hate to see them go because there are some other things that need to be fixed.”
The group was given a standing ovation.
Asked to sum up they Ministry’s experience in Pulaski, White, who served as project director, said Pulaski is “a great place to work, with great people. It’s a wonderful town and we’ve had a wonderful time.”
The Franklin County resident added, “We’ve met a lot of nice people and made a lot of new friends.”
Kropff of Salem said groups from across the country came in to help during the 18-month project. He and White had no estimate of how many people participated, but there was an average of 12 people per week for almost the entire 18 months.
Some participants returned half a dozen times. Some of the groups came from as far away as California and Idaho.
The resolution passed Tuesday recognizes the ministry as having been of “exceptional assistance” in helping the town to rebuild and recover. It says the ministry “embodies the highest principles of the Community of Faith in serving one’s fellow man in their time of greatest need.”
It concludes, Pulaski Town Council extends “the heartfelt thanks and appreciation of the Council and the citizens of the town of Pulaski to the Brethren Disaster Ministries for their dedicated and tireless efforts in rebuilding the homes of our citizens and for demonstrating the highest principles of service to their fellow man.”