Friday, September 30, 2005

From warehouse to distribution center

Well it has been three weeks and two days since we opened the warehouse. We have received so much stuff that it is totally unbelievable. Yesterday we put a family into the hands of a sponsor and moved her and her 10 year old into a house. Today we able to furnish a single guy's whole house. People are still coming and there could be more. I heard at a recent meeting that all of the mass housing shelters will be emptied tomorrow. Most have no where to go and may end up in towns throughout Indiana. We soon shall see.

Our warehouse has turned into a distribution center. We are still distributing stuff to hurricane victims(we have helped 16 of 22) but we have so much stuff that we are actually helping folks throughout the world. Here is a run down of what is happening:
  • sent 1000 pairs of shoes to Africa
  • sent toiletries and school supplies to Mississippi
  • sent food and toiletries to Louisiana
  • sent 70 boxes and bags of summer clothing to Mississippi
  • provided local Humane Society with many boxes of soiled blankets, sheets and pillows
  • Took food to local food pantries(food not a need here)
  • Sent four bags of stuffed Animals to a hospital in Texas
  • Sending a couple of hundred McDonald Toys to Honduras
  • Gave hundreds of pens, pencils, pads of paper and school supplies to local schools to give to children in need
  • Gave baby formula and clothing to women living in Nesting Doves House(home for single mothers)
  • Gave toys to Head Start
  • received so much school supplies a church is making 24 YES Kits for Operation Classroom
  • Making many health kits to send to LA.
  • donated hundreds and hundreds bottles of shampoo, little bars of soap, sample bottles of toiletries to Homeless Shelter
  • have given extra clothing to Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, Crisis Center, and Goodwill
    still have hundreds of articles of clothing in boxes with racks full in selection area
  • Sending about 150 boxes of summer clothes to Africa
We have also been supported from the following business' and organizations
  • Lucas furniture: new mattress
  • McCool's carpet: Furniture Cleaning
  • Guyer to Mover: Many boxes
  • Chrysler Transmission: Workers on Loan
  • B and B Pizza in Burlington: Lunch
  • Hobson Cleaners: hangers and coat cleaning
  • Old Navy: Sized and hung many boxes of clothing
  • UAW: Computer
  • Dr. Whitfield and Tim Taylor: The Warehouse
  • Tha Roots: Workers, soft drinks and space
  • Girl Scouts: New School Supplies and health items
Churches that have helped in the effort:

  • Bible Baptist
  • First Friends Meeting
  • Sycamore Friends Meeting
  • Quaker Friends Sunday School Class and Hostetler Electric
  • Morning Star
  • City of Refuge Church
  • Mt. Pigspah Baptist
  • Howard/ Miami Mennonite
  • Galveston United Methodist
  • St. Lukes United Methodist
Churches that supported in other ways:
  • Grace United Methodist Church: Eyeglasses, car insurance, title transfer, damage deposit
  • Shiloh United Methodist Church: Car
  • West Middleton United Methodist Church: Gas Cards and Wal-Mart Cards
  • Howe/Pretty prairie United Methodist church: Mission Trip / Sorted 100's of bags of clothing
  • First Baptist: Mission Trip/ sized many boxes of clothing
  • Morning Star Youth:Moved many boxes of clothing from one area to another
  • Faith United Methodist church: volunteers and clothing racks
  • Galveston United Methodist: Many, many hours of volunteering and clothing racks
  • Morning Star: Volunteers and tables
  • My Father's House: furniture
Believe it or not we still have enough stuff in the warehouse to fill at least 10 more homes completely, The only things lacking are mattress/springs and washer/dryers. We hope to help many more people when we are sure the hurricane families have been cared for. I believe that as we now function as a distribution center, God will continue to bless us as we reach into the community. Jeff

Monday, September 26, 2005

Not enough ways to say "Thank You"

"Wow!!!" and "THANK-YOU" is all I can say this Morning. God has been so good to us in the relocation process. Yesterday afternoon, at least 8 car loads of folk from the Howe and Pretty Prairie Untied Methodist Church(located in Northern Indiana almost on the Michigan line) came into the warehouse and sorted through all the bags and boxes of clothing. They literally handled thousands of articles of clothing separating the good from the bad, the boys from the girls, the mens from the women and the winter from the summer. We now have marked boxes of clothing that we can get to quickly when we run out of clothing on our "give away floor". I have never seen a group of people that were so determined to complete the task at hand. This group of over 30 people, led by Pastor Dewey Miller and his wife Shannon, literally did what would have taken us several weeks to do in a matter of 3.5 hours. There are no longer bags of clothing piled to the ceiling. There are no longer bags of clothing anywhere. I am very anxious for the regular workers to come in today and see the bags gone. Thanks again for being the hands and feet of Jesus as we together help those in great need.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Thank God for the Bags

The TV images are riveting: the rolling waves swamping people'’s homes, beams of houses turned into matchsticks, toys covered in seas of mud, a tattered Polaroid picture of a
family in happier times, the tears at lives lost or destroyed. The levies in New Orleans just broke again. Interstates in Texas are virtual parking lots as Rita bears down behind them. It reminds me of the Israelites fleeing Egypt with the Egyptians behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. The folks in traffic are waiting for the seas to part.

Meanwhile the rest of us watch, wait, wonder. My fear is that the novelty of helping is wearing off. The tune of talk radio in the area has turned from that of compassion to that of criticism, not of the government, but of the victims.

I think many folks are suffering from compassion fatigue. It'’s not unlike eating a big meal and needing to push away from the table because we can't eat any more. Or it is like, now the new puppy that is making too many messes, has chewed too many shoes, and has takes more care than we thought, we want to take it back. For many helping others is no longer a novelty, it has turned into work, that drags on and on. It is like the clothing that is piled up in the warehouse, it never goes away.

God is now beginning to teach me some stuff from the bags of clothing, that pile used to bother me because it never goes away. Now I think that God keeps the pile there for the following reasons:

  • That God is bigger than we can even imagine
  • That God's provision is more than enough
  • That God is bigger than the storms in life that we find ourselves in
  • It reminds us that our work is never done
  • It gives us a picture of God's grace, something without end
  • It reminds me that people need to give and want to help, every bag no matter how bad the stuff is in them was given to help someone else
  • The stained and buttonless clothing reminds me that many who gave the clothing are living the same way stained and broken
  • I also know that the junk we have to throw away may be things that givers can't throw away for one reason or another, giving freedom
  • God reminded me today that some---not all-- of the stained and smelly clothing could have been the best that some could give
  • I am reminded that the goal is not to be done, put to continue to work
  • I think the bags of clothing reminds others that there is a need to help out
  • If all of the bags were gone then those on tours or even those working might believe the work is done
  • Maybe God wants to remind us that the work of compassion needs to expand to those in our community in need
After Katrina, we have Rita and after Rita we will need to address issues in our own community-- homelessness, poverty and racism to name a few. I am now thanking God for the piles of clothing, asking God to continue to teach me more lessons. Maybe we need to pray for each bag for those that gave it and those who will receive it. What positive lessons are you learning from the clothing? Perhaps, this is something to talk about while we are going through piles of clothing.

Scripture:Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (And if we do become weary take a break, some time off and remember the words of Jesus)

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Thought: Make sure you rest and then roll up your sleeves to do your best for Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Calvary is Coming

What a great day yesterday. Here is the top ten list

10. Receiving more furniture than clothing at the warehouse

9. Placing two more families with sponsors

8. Picking up a donated car for a family

7. Met with Father Richard the Rector at an Episcopalian Church I will be briefly speaking at his 11:11 AM service on Sunday

6. Secured another sponsor with 2 more just about there, moving us closer to the goal of 10

5. Guyer the Mover donated 80 moving boxes that we need to help move families

4. Hobson Cleaners is cleaning all coats in need of cleaning

3. Made arrangements to meet a friend, Tim on Thursday

2. Had breakfast with a group of men as I do most every Tuesday Morning

1. Great friend Dewey is bringing his church on a mission trip this Sunday to Kokomo they will drive over 2.5 hours leaving from the Indiana/Michigan Line with 33 people signed up to come. The Calvary is coming.....................Praise God

Today I get to shift gears a bit this morning, I am on the District Committee of Ministry. We are interviewing a new candidate for ministry. This afternoon I will meet with a sponsor and a family to make a connection. This evening I have Bible Study at church we will be looking at Genesis 4.

Your prayers are awesome and powerful.....Thanks Jeff

Monday, September 19, 2005

Productive day ---- Kind of

Sorting, sorting sorting, with the cell phone growing out of my ear was the way I spent my day. I took time during lunch to meet with a local pastor of an influential church about Kokomo Urban Outreach. He was very supportive. I returned to the warehouse in the afternoon to sort some more. It looks like we wasted our day since anything we sorted was replaced with more bags of clothing. We have got to get the stuff out. We now have families arriving at the warehouse each day and while it looks like a lot, people are not finding their particular size.

Today I had a women with a six year old daughter come in she needed clothing for her daughter which we had trouble finding, but we were able to help. This woman also needed a car badly, she said, 'I know you can't help me because I need a car." I told her I would do what I could. By afternoon I had a car for her. A 87 Toyota, it is in good shape and it is free. She wept.

At about 5:00 we had a married couple with a 13 and 14 yr old boy and girl. They were refereed by a local apartment complex that is offering one month free rent and utilities, with no deposit for displaced families. They came in expecting to receive some warmer clothes, they left with coats, dishes, beds, dressers, a dryer(they had a washer) and we hooked them up with a sponsor. They were completely overwhelmed and where in awe. The husband has a job interview tomorrow and he received several nice shirts, pants and ties. We were also able to provide them with a gas card and a gift certificate because we had no boys size 16/18 jeans for their son. I bet we have them in the piles we just have not got to them.

Many of the workers want us to stop accepting clothing. However, I am not because we need teenage clothing, winter coats, little s clothing. We had the six year old and hardly had any clothes for her. Our volunteers are dropping away, as the work is hard, long and non stop. Most workers have not missed a day. We have few new workers, because I quit calling the radio station with the hopes people would stop coming in for awhile so we can catch our breath. I am not complaining but as we often find, people are willing to give stuff and money(which doesn't hurt) but time is harder to give it costs.

That's enough of the rambling tonight. It is all worth it when we see families with nothing leave with more than can be put into their car. I have know I have the strength to keep going for the joy of the Lord is my strength. Please keep the prayers going for us. Jeff

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Buried Treasure

We were blessed with some great treasure this weekend. We spent time with friends that we treasure, we were able to help a great number of displaced people, and we had a good worship service. The sermon was based on Matt. 13:4-46 about a man finding buried treasure and buying the field. We talked about how people are the treasure, because they are valuable in God's eyes. Our job is to be treasure hunters not sparing any expense in finding those that are the most valuable to God(everybody). At the end of the sermon some children from the housing project across the street walked in. It brought tears to my eyes, because they are part of the treasure that we need to reach and we got an opportunity to do it. Jeff

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Relocation Plan Disappointment

Yesterday I was advised by INVOD (the place where those with housing are to register to receive families) that they were NOT accepting anymore housing offers. In our community effort I was able to call two weeks ago and register 5 completely furnished homes with sponsors offering displaced families free rent, food, utilities etc. When I called yesterday to see where we were in the process, I was told that it still would be several weeks, if ever, that they would need us. Unfortunately I was told not to call back and that if they needed us they would call us, which throughout the conversation, it seemed highly unlikely that a call would come. After speaking to our group of volunteers we decided that we would begin to house those that are presently living in Kokomo with friends or family members (there are presently 20 identified families). This means now we are proceeding on our own. For those of you that have called me with houses or sponsors in your community, find a family and help them. One caution: As disappointed as I am with FEMA and the whole process, families still need t register with FEMA before receiving aid. The reasons are two fold. FEMA needs to know where families are so that the families can receive FEMA money, secondly, having a FEMA number will identify family as a true hurricane victim and will separate those in need with those trying to take advantage of the situation. The fastest and easiest way is to register on line at, the phones are always busy and we were are told the best time to call them is between 2AM-6AM. Please do your best to help any families that are arriving in your community. Our prayers are with the displaced families and those trying to help them.

PS: Our goal all along was to cooperative with government agencies instead of running down and just rescuing people out of shelters etc. We wanted to do the right thing and let families be processed etc. While we are receiving great cooperation on the local level, the Federal Level, seems to have its own agenda. We will be placing families in need into their own homes and I thank God that God is the one who is leading us.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Stories of Survivors

Today we had the privledge of providing household items, clothing, coats and much more, through the Katrina Relocation Plan Warehouse, to displaced families. Everyone had a story. The first guy was in his late 20's single and moving into an apartment. Red Cross called us and asked if we could give him a sweeper. When he arrived we learned he had a bed and some clothing and that was all. He wanted a sweeper to clean carpet in his apartment. I asked him what else he had besides a bed he said "nothing". I invited him to choose a sofa, chair, and table. He broke down and expressed that he couldn't believe there were people thinknig of him and fellow victims so far away. It was too overwhelming for him. He also recieved everything for his kitchen, bedding for bed, a coat, and a washer and dryer. He was very deeply moved and worked hard when selecting items to be mindful of others especially of families that would soon come. I asked him if he wanted a job and he said yes. We connected him up with a manager of a bowling alley that came to the warehouse last week and offered a job to someone who needed it. After coming for a sweeper he left with a bunch of stuff, new friends and a job.
The second family was a mom and two teenage sons, they have been living in a fire station since the storm. There are no schools that are open and it was difficult to live in a fire station with many others. Her husband sent her to Kokomo to stay with distant relatives that they had never met. Her husband remained at the fire station in LA. so he would not lose his job. This family has been separated so that the young men may go to school. This family have never been out of LA. and they were cold today, high temp 79(felt great to me).
The third family had two small children and two teens. They are living in a motel, th father was hired by a friend here who gave him a job. They want to get into a home soon and came in to see how we could help them. We explained we could provide them with household items, but they did not have anywhere yet to take the stuff. We did give them some dishes, pots, pans etc. to cook in a kitchenette in their room. They all recieved coats and sweatshirts, they too wer very cold today. The children got some toys and the teen children took some books to read.
The last family was a couple that had live in Los Vegas, who were art and antique collectors. They were looking for a quieter town, in a warm climate, that was sort of artsy and cultured. They took two years to locate a town in LA. they built a brand new house and moved into their dream home and town. They only lived in their house for 6 weeks before it and the entire town was totally and utterly destroyed. All of thier art and atinque collection was gone. They came to Kokomo to stay with a sister. They secured a house and traded in their early american furnitrue for early salvation army. They were so cold that they wore their winter coats home.
Please pray for all of these families and for volunteers to come forward to help us sort through the mountiains of bags of clothing etc. We estimate we have 700-100 bags and boxes of things to sort through. For some reason the volunteer pool is low, but the stuff never stops coming in. We had to just start ripping open bags this afternoon to find a coat for a 16 year old boy. We have to find the stuff we need in the piles soon. I am having trouble getting the word out. Once a volunteer arrives they usually come back each day. In the week we have been open we have had about 100 volunteers but that is not nearly enough. The project is large but God is larger. Anyone up for a mission trip to Kokomo? Jeff

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

First Person receives Items

Today we are a week old and the first displaced person came through and received a bunch of items, it was a single man who has no plans to return to La. He moved into an apartment but had no furnishings. He is not one of our fully sponsored families but made his way here to be with a friend. Please keep us in prayer as we are having families coming for things and we still have many things to go through. Also pray for all the workers that more volunteers will join the effort and all will get some rest.


Katrina Warehouse Pictures

Thank you Lisa for Pictures. If you want to see pictures of the Warehouse go to the following:

Katrina Warehouse Pictures


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Expanded Territory

Today I met with City leaders(over 20 community leaders) as we plan together for how to handle displaced families. I was able to present the plan below and it was embraced by the group.

Plan Expansion

We are beginning to see displaced families arriving in Howard County to find refuge with family members. The Kokomo Katrina Relocation Plan Task Force, as of September 13, 2005, has expanded its plan to offer aid to displaced families who are presently safe with family members but will soon need a home to call their own. The expansion plan will address the needs of these families.

The expansion plan will be working with local government and the Kokomo Housing Authority to provide housing for these displaced families. The Kokomo Chapter of the Katrina Relocation Plan will work with the city to provide other physical and emotional needs. The KRP (Katrina Relocation Plan Task Force) will provide the following physical items:

  • All household needs, furniture, including a sofa and chair, beds and mattresses, Kitchen or dining table with chairs, dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, we will also provide stove and refrigerator if needed.
  • All clothing needs including, a winter coat for each person in the family
  • We will provide families with infants, cribs, diapers, clothing, high chairs and car seats.
  • We will provide towels, sheets, pillowcases, and blankets
  • Families will be able to select toys and household decorations.
  • Families will receive bathroom items such as toothpaste, soap etc.
  • Families will receive caned food, and cleaning supplies if needed.

With the aid of local churches, non- profit organizations and/or trained individuals, the KRP will provide each displaced family, if they desire, a "Community Contact" who would provide the following :

  • Help family move into home
  • Make arrangements for transportation
  • Help secure government aid
  • Work with families to get children in School
  • Help regain Identification (drivers license etc.)
  • Help family become acclimated to new community
  • Help family secure reliable car, insurance, etc.
  • Help secure a job
  • Work with families that have specific needs such as tutoring, childcare etc.

    Presently, the KRP is securing names of Doctors, Dentists, Optometrist and Certified Counselors who will provide services to displaced families without concern of fees.

    All displaced families must register with the local chapter of the Red Cross to receive the above stated services.

I was asked how many families we could supply with "Community Contacts", my response, "all of them". I was asked how, and my response was we have 1000's of church folk in town. I explained that the sleeping giant would awake and meet the need. I also challenged us as the faith community and the government to partner to help the families affected.

It has been a good day. Jeff

Sunday, September 11, 2005

New Podcast Katrina Relocation Plan

Dave and I have recorded a new podcast that deals with the Katrina Relocation Plan. It can be found at TMAP(Two Middle Aged Pastors)

Please keep praying.............................................Jeff

Friday, September 09, 2005


Hi everyone...what a difference a week makes: Last Monday I asked you to look at a Katrina Relocation Plan that a friend David and I worked out to bring displaced families to Kokomo,
Since Wednesday noon we have it up on a Website and other Communities are joining us and using this plan. You may see the website at

I am very limited on time but here are the highlights of the week or should I say since Wednesday:

  • Opened up a 20,000 sq. foot warehouse in Kokomo called the Katrina Warehouse
  • Have been receiving household items to be given to families coming to Kokomo
  • Have had many volunteers working every day in warehouse.
  • Got on radio on Monday, first volunteer Lisa called me.
  • We opened the warehouse at 9:00 on Wednesday with a blurb on the radio.
  • The second volunteer was a woman from Galveston Indiana who attends the UMC there, she just closed her hardware store. About an hour after we opened I asked her to cordinate the warehouse, she readily said yes , she said that God told her before she left home she would be asked and she should say yes.
  • We have a great receptionist that takes care of the phone
  • Could not get phone installed fast enough, using my cell phone. My cell phone never stops ringing with messages piling up. For our friends trying to reach us use Chris' number. If you don't have her number call the Lowell UMC at 219-696-9219 and they will give it to you.
  • Have been interviewed on the radio numerous times and have had major articles in the paper the past two days.
  • We have had two groups step up to sponsor families with 8-12 month commitments. Two families should arrive in Kokomo in two weeks.
  • Last night we had a group of teen offenders come into the warehouse to work.
  • We have a furniture store in town willing to provide new mattress's for every person.
  • We have a cleaners that will clean all coats
  • We have a carpet cleaner service that will clean all sofas and chairs
  • Office Supply store provided all of our office supplies
  • Computer donated
  • Chrysler Transmission sent several workers on loan to help us, meaning they paid their employees to help us.
  • Meijer Store gave us clothing racks
  • Goodies Dept. Store lent us nice clothing racks
  • We had several unemployed men with pick ups who wanted to pick up stuff for us but had no gas money. Recieved 100 dollars in gas cards.
  • Have been able to witness to searching volunteers who are looking for meaning to life, gently pointing them toward Jesus.
  • We are having a toy drive on Sat put on by 11 year old special need triplets with Indianapolis TV coming to cover it.
  • The presence of God is with us each day. When I go to bed at night I am tired but feel so good.
  • Was called to a meeting of top officals of Howard County, to help cordinate effort. They gave me about an hour's notice and insisted I come. I walked into a confercence room at town hall with 15 people in suits ties and dresses, I in my shorts and polo shirt, I barely had time to leave the warehouse, just went as I was, felt a bit out of place, but I don't think it was the clothes, never been to a meeting with city movers and shakers.
Please pray for the following: For katrina relocation Endeavor,

a pastor friend of mine that lives near Kokomo he is 39, with two small children and just had a stroke.

pray for chris and our family as we all have been at the warehouse a lot. We have only been open for three days but it seems like weeks. I wish I could share all my stories with you, I could write a book.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Victory Day

Today was a great day in church. Only 19 people in church, however, worship was excellent and all of those 19 people brought nearly 500 items to put on the semi going to Mississippi, we added it to the 500 items we collected from the neighborhood. I have never been more convinced that churches and neighborhoods can partner together to make a difference in the world. Jeff

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Call me crazy, but last night I talked with a group in Indianapolis called Katrina Hurricane Relocation Organization. It is a group made up of Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Hope Center. Yesterday, Marsh grocery sent a plane to La. with food, when they arrived they decided after unloading plane they would fill it up with evacuees and bring them back to Indiana. Sixty people arrived last night. They are being processed by the Red Cross and will live in Mass Housing for about 30 days, they they can be connected to a host family that will help them make the transition to their own housing. Our family volunteered to be a host family. Theeeeeennnnn believe it or not I am now the coodinator of Katrina Hurricane Relocation for all of central Indiana. FEMA believes that there will be 4000 people in Indiana by this weekend. They will be housed in the State Fair Grounds. My job is to secure host families, interview, build profiles, explain what is needed and expected and to Cordinate evacuees and hosts. Hosts should have the families living with them for 6-8 months. However, FEMA money will help them get a new start. I will be coordinating job banks, securing a warehouse to collect furniture etc to help evacuees get a new start, and am not sure what else. This whole organization came into being on Thursday and today is Saturday. Today I attended a meeting in Indianapolis and as soon as we got home......See next entry.

Hurricane aid

Have you heard me say that God keeps dropping things in my lap. Well, on Thursday I received an email from the Kokomo District Office listing a bunch of stuff that is needed in Mississippi, a larger church in town has secured a semi and they are making a connection in Blioxi Mississippi at a local United Methodist Church. So I got the bright idea that our whole neighborhood should work together and help fill up the semi, I made a flyer and but it on 300 doors of the houses in our Neighborhood. I gave them the list and said we would return on Saturday to pick it up. Today Chris, Andrew and I went back through the neighborhood and picked up a truck load of stuff. We gave everyone a thank you note inviting them to church to see how much stuff we collected together and how we will be praying for those in need. In the midst of that we met so many people. We met some folks who were from La. and haven't heard from their relatives, and they were about in tears. I had a conversation with two young African Americans about the perceived racism in the situation and listened to them without having to express my views. I met a young mother who gave me a half a bag of diapers as she was holding her tiny baby in her arms, I told her I did not want to take her last bag and she said she would stretch her new bag further. We had people bringing stuff to our door and having a chance to meet them. I met a 23 year old man and his five year old daughter. He has had her from birth, he had to quit high school to take care of her. He works at a meat processing company about 20 miles north of here. He dug through his cabinets and gave me some food. He was trying to clean his house. His daughter was so cute and polite. I asked if I could come back and see him again he said, please do. Had a guy named Bruce in the regular neighborhood who jumped in his truck to help out, he followed and we loaded and he helped us carry all of the stuff into the church. As we drove through the housing project, people just kept coming out of their house piling stuff into the back of our car. I got into a conversation with a young mother who really couldn't see the difference between 911 and present situation, she couldn't figure out why so much stuff was needed when no one collected the stuff for 911 victims. Not only did we collect a lot of stuff I learned a great deal about he neighbors and neighborhood.