Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus with First Responders, Families, and the Community of Surfside, Florida
LCC K-9 Ministry Teams and Hearts of Mercy & Compassion Bring Comfort and
California Deployment Update
In Thousand Oaks, California, our LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams have been working with the victims of the shootings and others affected at Borderline Bar & Grill. They were in the middle of the fires taking place now and were working with individuals and families who had to evacuate their homes. All around where our Comfort Dog teams were working, they could see the fires burning. They have served hundreds of people at California Lutheran University, Pepperdine University, a reunification center for the victims families that now serves as a shelter for those evacuated due to the fires. We are in contact with Pastor Tim Barkett from Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newbury Park who has evacuated his home.
- Borderline Bar & Grill: Saturday & Sunday vigils
- California Lutheran University (Cal Lutheran): Thursday night vigil, daily at counseling center, Monday town hall meeting
- Christ the King Lutheran Church: Friday & Sunday morning
- La Quinta Hotel: evacuee guests
- Red Cross Evacuation Center, Thousand Oaks
The LCC K-9 Ministry teams were invited to the Cal Lutheran town hall meeting on Monday morning. There were about 400 in attendance. Many staff, faculty, and students have lost homes. The Comfort Dogs were present to help those in attendance reduce their stress, share their worries, and pray with them. While there, they met President Chris Kimball (Cal Lutheran), the Ventura County Sheriff, and University Pastor Scott Maxwell-Doherty. They also attended a Veterans Day gathering at the Cal Lutheran veterans' center. It honored alumni Justin Meek who sacrificed his life to save others at Borderline.
LCC K-9 Ministry handler Bonnie Fear sharing how their presence made a difference
Red Cross Volunteer sharing how the Comfort Dogs helped families cope with the widespread devastation
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At the same time, other LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams are serving in the widely devastated communities in Butte County, California. After initially deploying to Thousand Oaks, Aaron Comfort Dog (St. John’s – Napa, California) redeployed to Chico and joined Reuben Comfort Dog (First Lutheran – Yuba City, California) and teams waiting for their Comfort Dog from St. Andrews in Stockton and Light of the Valley in Elk Grove. They are comforting the thousands of victims of the Camp Fire and the first responders protecting life and property at locations such as:
Reports to date are stating that over 90 firefighters who have been risking their life to battle the horrendous flames have lost their own homes due to the current wild fires.
Florida Deployment Update
Kathy O’Day, LCC Director of Disaster Response, and thirty LERT Chainsaw team members arrived in Panama City, Florida on Saturday, November 10, to work out of Trinity Lutheran Church with Pastor Paul McComack and Pastor Ed Brashier, Southern District Disaster Coordinator. The team members are from Illinois and Indiana:
Cross Lutheran – Yorkville: Derek Kowalczyk
Good Shepherd – Elgin: David Vollrath
Prince of Peace – Palatine: Jim Beckley
St. John – Wheaton: Steve Chester, Marty Johnson, David Schesselman,
St. Peter – Schaumburg: Ken Kivarante, Tom Amundsen
Trinity – Lisle: Clay Arnold, Ed & Jan Boerman, Skip & Karen Sorensen, Mike Kostecki, Carl Witt
Trinity – Roanoke: Ron Wagner
Trinity – Roselle: Kristin Bilar, Bob Pautsch
Trinity – Tinley Park: Joel Powless
St. John’s – Dillsboro: Steve Black
Almost every home and business has been affected in some way in Panama City. The destruction is widespread. Many families are living in damaged homes because of limited other housing options. The schools are planning to open this week with children now from several schools having to attend the ones not damaged too severely. The local hospital is not able to reopen for another three months. Only one grocery store is open in town and the checkout lines are always long. Everyone is managing the best they can in a difficult and trying situation.
Trinity Lutheran is helping their community by providing emotional, spiritual, and physical support. They are distributing food and supplies to thousands of affected residents each week with many willing volunteers. They are also housing the many teams who are coming in from all over the country to assist in recovery.
Our LERT team has already tarped several roofs after removing trees from them and doing chainsaw work and debris removal. We are privileged to show the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need.
On Sunday, November 11, our team tarped several roofs in anticipation of heavy rains and high winds this week. We tarped the roof of Ms. Simmons who told us about riding out the storm in her home. She shared, “It wasn’t supposed to be as bad as it was until all of sudden it was! The wind was the loudest I have ever heard, made my ears pop, and I could hear trees falling and windows breaking. It lasted 2 ½ hours, which I spent fearfully sheltered in my bathroom, praying for the winds to cease, storm to pass, and for all to survive. When it was over, I had a tree on my roof which also blocked my driveway as well as a couple trees down in my backyard. Several of my neighbors had their homes completely destroyed. I could not believe the destruction and still cannot fathom how this community will ever really recover."
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Sasha (Island Lutheran – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina), Luke (Christ the Shepherd – Alpharetta, Georgia), Hope (Faith – Marietta, Georgia), and Peace (Trinity – Orlando, Florida) arrived in Panama City over the weekend to bring comfort to those impacted, first responders, and volunteers. They also greet individuals who come to Trinity’s distribution center for assistance. On Veteran’s Day, Kare 9 Sasha and Hope, along with their veteran handlers, were invited by Pastor Paul McComack of Trinity to visit the State Veterans Home to thank residents for their service to our country as well as the staff that cares for them.
CLICK HERE to view to Pastor Dave as he shows the devastation and shares his story
Together, We are the Hands and Feet of Jesus to a Suffering Community
Within hours of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, LCC received an invitation from Rev. Stephen Carretto of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Boca Raton, Florida to bring the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs to be with the students and faculty of the school, and the surrounding communities. By noon on Thursday, February 15, the first LCC K-9 Ministry team arrived; LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Jacob (LCC Staff) with his handlers, Sharon and Mike Flaherty. The team immediately went to work with Jacob Comfort Dog by attending a vigil held in Parkland, Florida, where many officials and clergy spoke, as well as alumni Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs. The Parkland community is a closely connected, beautiful community located north of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
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.
Emergency Appeal: LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Deploy to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, Florida in Response to Mass Shooting
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs have been invited by Rev. Stephen Carretto of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Boca Raton, Florida, to bring comfort and compassion to students and their families, faculty, staff and first responders.
LCC never goes where we are not invited and LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs NEVER charge those we serve. We pick up all of our travel, hotel, and meal costs. We also always put Boots and Paws on the ground within 24 hours (often less) from the time we get the invite.
Please help LCC as we bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need. We know that comfort is needed to help this devastated community and the first responders who serve them. Please support us by prayer and if you are moved, to help with travel expenses.
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