West, Texas Aftermath: Methodists to the Rescue

Date Posted: 5/9/2013

What began as a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the youth summer mission trip, ended quite differently in late April as Sunset UMC, Pasadena students and adults arrived with spaghetti noodles and other key ingredients in hand for a morning of cooking. “We had planned this as the first of four lunches we would cook for after-church meal donations to our mission trip,” says Youth Counselor Stephanie Hatten, “but that morning the missions coordinator and youth voted to donate the proceeds to help the people in the explosion-torn town of West, instead.”


What happened next truly amazed 8th grader Sara Hatten. “It was a very spur of the moment kind of idea that we unanimously agreed on and just announced at church,” she says. “We normally serve about 100 people and raise about $400 for our mission trip, but on that day, we raised over $1,100 and I got to be the one to announce it to the church the next week! The whole time we were taking people their food, they were telling us how proud they were that we had decided to give up our mission funds to the people of West.”


Stephanie knows there is plenty of time to resume fundraising for the summer youth mission trip to help special needs adults at Cornerstone Ranch in McKinney, and that God will bless the Sunset youth group for their unselfish gesture. “We will have a garage sale and special mission trip stocks to help fund our trip,” she adds. “Our special tribute to West will be a lasting part of our ongoing mission work in 2013 and something the youth will not soon forget.”


TAC Gives Greatly to the People of West

The immediate outpouring of generosity following the April 24 explosion in the tiny town of West, Texas, surprised TAC Disaster Response Coordinator Clay Whitaker. “The tragedy happened on Wednesday and we got a list from the Red Cross on Thursday and began implementing a quick plan to identify three drop-off points in the conference,” recalls Clay. “I was hoping for enough to fill a cargo van and trailer, but our communication system worked very well and people across Texas jumped to the aid of this shocked and devastated town and I had to pull in several other volunteers with trailers and trucks to get our significant delivery to the staging area on the rodeo grounds near West,” he adds. “We had more than our vehicles could carry and we had not even made it to the last drop-off point, so I am thankful for all who jumped in at the last minute to help us drive. It was an amazing response on short notice.”


The road to recovery will be a long haul, according to Clay. By the end of April, TAC had received cash donations exceeding $29,100! Churches or individuals can continue to give in one of the following ways:

1.   Remit the offering directly to the Texas Annual Conference by sending a check made out to “The Texas Annual Conference” with memo: “West” and mail it to the TAC, Center for Missional Excellence, 5215 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002

2.   Remitt the offering to UMCOR Advance #901670 and indicate that it is designated for West, Texas.


Clay was thrilled with the systematic improvements that have been made in the Disaster Response planning effort. “I was also grateful for the note from Aldersgate UMC thanking the conference for leading the way when disaster strikes.”