On Tuesday, February 27, Rev. Michael Meyer, LCMS Disaster Response Manager, presented Rev. Don Love with gift cards as well as purchasing needed equipment, tools, flood buckets, and other items needed for flood clean-up. There are many houses that need help with pump outs due to flooded basements, water in main living areas, and carpet removal. LCC will be sending in volunteers to support the clean-up efforts on Saturday.
Lutheran Church Charities has previously assisted Watseka and its surrounding communities in 2008 from a record-breaking "100 year flood" and in 2015 with three floods in fewer than 6 months. This current flood has already surpassed the 2008 flood, setting a new historic flood record. LCC Disaster Response teams will once again bring physical and financial assistance, and the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to this suffering community.
This community has a long recovery to face and will need our financial and physical assistance for some time. Please prayerfully consider donating to help this community in crisis.
By day's end on Thursday, 6 of the 19 LCC K-9 Comfort Dog teams were on-site by the memorial that was building at Pine Trails Park which is less than a mile from the high school. Other K-9 teams continued to arrive through Sunday, including law enforcement handlers from the LCC K-9 Police Ministry. The park is a place to enjoy tennis, soccer, yoga, a playground, and has a recreation center and an amphitheater for activities. Since that tragic day, the recreation center is now a counseling and service center for victims of the shooting. The amphitheater and grassy field in front of it has become a solemn place to mourn, grieve, and pray.
Each day at Pine Trails Park, the number of people stopping by increased, and the students would return to visit the crosses and stars that marked the memory of their friends and family members. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers did what they were trained to do – be present, listen, and pray. There is no comparison amongst tragedies. Nothing is the same and everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and loss. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams worked tirelessly in their mission to bring the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need. Students would tearfully share their stories of their friends and where they were that day. Parents often accompanied their children to the park to be close to them.
Within days of being in Parkland, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams received an invitation to work with the counselors of Broward County Schools. The Broward County School District is the sixth largest school district in the United States, with over 300 schools and approximately 300,000 students. The district had just finished their recovery from Hurricane Irma and had also assimilated thousands of children from Puerto Rico into the schools as a result of Hurricane Maria. It was an amazing accomplishment. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would present another challenge that no school district would ever want to face.
During the first week on-site, along with being at the park, the LCC K-9 Ministry teams were assigned to visit over 20 elementary and middle schools in the surrounding communities to be with children who were afraid to come to or be in school. The teams visited the children and then worked with counselors to help specific children who were still having difficulty understanding what happened. The teams also visited schools where family members had lost loved ones and a school where a first grader had died in a fire. The teachers and staff at each of the schools are doing their very best to help the children feel safe and loved.
Teachers from the high school were brought together the Friday immediately following the shooting. After that, they had met mostly at funerals and at Pine Trails Park. Last Friday, the teachers were welcomed into the school to be with each other and to start planning their return. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog teams were invited to be there to support the faculty, staff, and first responders. It was a reassuring moment and a positive break as they stood, sat, and laid with the dogs.
The second deployment is under way this week, with 12 LCC K-9 Ministry teams that will serve Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the students return on Wednesday, February 28.
The LCC K-9 Ministry thanks you for your continued prayers and support that helps us bring the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to the Parkland, Florida community. If you are so moved, please support us through donations to the K-9 Travel Expense Fund so that we can continue to serve this hurting community.
Lutheran Church Charities sends a heartfelt thank you and appreciation to a supporter of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. She generously donates her time, talents and resources to create beautiful custom note cards for the staff to send to others. Each card is created with love and inspirational messages that surely touch the lives of those who receive them. This picture is only a sampling of her wonderful creations. May your hands and heart continually be blessed!
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Kye and Bekah (Immanuel – Belvidere, Illinois) and their handlers recently visited Carl Sandburg Middle School in Freeport, Illinois. While there, they supported the social workers and counselors who taught 7th graders about the Signs of Suicide (SOS), understanding what depression is, how to recognize symptoms, and what steps to take if they are worried about themselves or a friend
We are grateful for the dedicated service of all first responders, and encourage everyone to join with LCC in praying for them.
LCC K-9 Police Ministry patches, and Prospect Heights (Illinois) Police Department patches (home agency serving LCC), were given to the dispatch center administrator, as well as officers in the Special Victims Unit as a symbol of support. Patches were also given to Sgt. Dooley of the Florida Highway Patrol, who the K-9 teams later encountered at the Parkland station of the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
LCC is honored to have the opportunity to thank the men and women of law enforcement for their service, and remind them all that they are in our prayers.
In addition to spending time with the veterans, handmade quilts were presented to them and many visits ended in prayer. Thursday, while still in the Temple area, the teams visited Fort Hood Army Base. They were again warmly welcomed and enjoyed spending time with soldiers in many phases of active military life. Their hosts were a team from the Warrior Transition Unit and they have asked the K-9 teams to return on a quarterly basis now. They look forward to being able to see them more and on a regular basis. Before departing for home, the groups returned to Waco to the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. They were pleased to visit the various mental health groups including the locked ward as well as blind rehab and present those veterans with quilts.
One of the highlights of this visit was each team receiving a certificate from the base commander at Fort Hood. The certificate was in appreciation for the visit and to commend the dogs on their behavior. But that was not all. They also presented a certificate to be sent to LCC acknowledging the high level of training that allows our dogs to be present on the base.
LCC Responds to Floods in Watseka & Milford, IL & K-9 Comfort Dogs Help High School Students Return in Parkland, FL
Tim Hetzner, LCC President / CEO, Rev. Don Love and Rev. Karl Gibbs Go Through Flood Waters to Do Well-Being Checks on Residents Still in Their Homes
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.” – Psalm 29:10
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Stay in Parkland, Florida to Help Students Returning to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
"God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" - Hebrews 13:5
LCC Disaster Response in Watseka & Milford, Illinois Floods
On Saturday, February 24, 2018, Tim Hetzner, LCC President / CEO, Kathy O'Day, LCC Disaster Response Director, and LCC Disaster Response staff arrived in Watseka, Illinois to assess historic flood damage caused by heavy rains in areas hit the hardest. Rev. Don Love from Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka and Rev. Karl Gibbs from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Milford contacted Lutheran Church Charities to assist residents affected by the floods with muck-out relief operations, financial assistance and gift cards.
Lutheran Church Charities is working in partnership with the CID (Central IL District of the LCMS) and Stephen Born their Disaster Response Coordinator. We are also working with Pastor Jordan Cooper at Faith Lutheran in Watseka, Illinois and we had assessed their church which was flooded as well as their parsonage.
On Monday, February 26, Kathy O’Day will return to Watseka to spend a week supporting the pastors of the three churches in this community: Rev. Don Love from Calvary Lutheran - Watseka, Rev. Karl Gibbs from Our Savior - Milford and Rev. Jordan Cooper from Faith Lutheran - Watseka. Working from Calvary Lutheran in Watseka, Kathy will also support the LCMS Central Illinois District Disaster Response Coordinator (DDRC), Stephen Born, in assessing residents with the greatest need and scheduling work orders. LCC Disaster Response brought the pump-out trailer and taught local volunteer teams how to use the pumps to assist their neighbors whose homes are flooded. LCC also provided an all-terrain vehicle to get into flooded areas to check on families and elderly stuck in their homes. Financial assistance has already been given to the pastors to help their members affected by the flood.
Lutheran Church Charities has previously assisted Watseka and its surrounding communities in 2008 from a record-breaking "100 year flood" and in 2015 with three floods in fewer than 6 months. This current flood has already surpassed the 2008 flood, setting a new historic flood record. LCC Disaster Response teams will once again bring physical and financial assistance, and the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to this suffering community. This is what we do and what we are going to continue to do.
Many people in the Watseka community that needed to evacuate their homes are still in a Red Cross shelter. The water has crested and is very slowly starting to go down. Residents still cannot access their homes but hope that roads will be passable by Monday. Below are just a few stories from Calvary Lutheran Church members:
Please prayerfully consider donating to help this community in crisis. You, together with the LCC staff and volunteers, are the hands and feet of Jesus as we touch lives with His mercy and compassion!
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Help Students & Staff Return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
For a second week, several new teams are being deployed to Florida; 11 LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and 22 handlers will be present to help students overcome their fears and sadness as well as share the love and comfort that comes through Jesus Christ.
If you are so moved, please help the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry with travel expenses so that we can continue to bring the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to this devastated community.
Please continue to pray for the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog teams, the many individuals who have been impacted and all first responders who continue to serve and protect the Parkland, Florida community.
Thank you for being a part of the Mercy and Compassion Ministry of Lutheran Church Charities.
Lutheran Church Charities