The 2019 storm season started off much earlier than usual across the US, hitting the central portion particularly hard. But Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) Disaster Response members and volunteers were ready.
Since March, SDIA’s Disaster Response (DR) teams have already deployed on 9 Disaster Response Missions (DRMs) to areas affected by tornadoes and flooding in Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Kansas and Arkansas. Our DR teams – made up of 128 SDIA members from our Central Arkansas Chapter, Central Florida Team, Greater Cincinnati Chapter, Kansas Chapter, Mississippi Team, North Texas Chapter, Northwest Arkansas Chapter, Southern Indiana Team, and Southern Missouri Team, as well as members & volunteers from Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia – have spent 24 days on missions so far. They cleared more than 372 trees & truckloads of debris from 50+ properties, mucked out many homes, distributed medical, cleaning, hygiene and other supplies, and assisted more than 150 people (including 34 veterans and 7 first responders and their families). Our Central Arkansas Chapter also filled and delivered more than 670 sandbags to homes in danger of flooding in their area in June.
Each and every person on our DR Teams are grateful for the opportunity to help and serve others in need and feel an immense sense of fulfillment when the work is finished. This feeling is what keeps them returning to disaster response work.
“It’s hard work cutting branches and trees and hauling them to the curb, but man…helping folks in need – that’s what we live for right? Clear the area around the house, tarp the roof, give a hug and smile, provide the human touch – priceless. Volunteering is good for the soul and mind and body.” Rob, multiple DR deployments
“I feel fulfilled when I can go and help with these sorts of missions. It makes me feel better about who I am, why I’m here, what I’m doing, and where I’m going. I just feel better about myself as a whole. I feel like I’ve given back to my country, and can actually see the people I’m helping. I get a lot of peace of mind out of the missions.” Ryan, multiple DR deployments
“It felt so good helping people and talking to folks in need. At the end of each day I felt beat up and tired…and very happy looking forward to the next day. I have a need to serve as it makes me whole as a human. Thru this organization I get to be part of something bigger than me.” Scott, first-time volunteer
First-time Volunteers Come Away Inspired to Do More
First-time DR volunteers, while often uncertain about what a DR mission entails, come away motivated, inspired and ready to go back.
“The crew of volunteers and members welcomed me with open arms, and I felt accepted as part of the team. It felt great emotionally to help others. The victims of the tornado were so grateful even though their whole world was torn apart. I felt energized knowing that the results of my work was for a good cause.” Dionne, first-time volunteer
“The trip was extremely rewarding. At the end of each day I felt like I had helped to truly make a difference in the lives of all those we helped and went to bed looking forward to what the next day would bring. By the time we loaded up to head home, my body was physically worn out, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I found the DRM work physically challenging at times, as well as mentally and emotionally. You hurt for all the people that can’t help themselves, either physically or financially, but you leave knowing you made an impact, and that is where the true value in the trip lies. What we do to help physically, also helps them mentally and emotionally, and that is the true reward of going on a DRM. By helping them recover and heal, we also help ourselves in ways we might have never known we needed.” MJ, first-time volunteer
For military veterans and first responders, there is an unbreakable bond that is forged among them on the harsh streets of combat and in their daily service that is nearly impossible to replicate outside of those situations. However, when these Sheep Dogs get together on a DR mission, working tirelessly for the community as a whole, this bond and camaraderie is restored. For many of them, this is the first time they’ve experienced this sense of belonging and brotherhood since they separated from their service. Being among their peers and talking freely, positively changes their attitudes, outlook and, for some, their very lives.
“Talking with the homeowners and working with other volunteers was very rewarding and motivating. Doing these missions really helps you re-prioritize your life and look at things through a different lens. Working so closely with like-minded individuals, doing so much hard work in an area that has seen so much destruction really does create fast bonds with those around you.” Brian, multiple deployments
Want to #GetOffTheCouch and renew your sense of purpose while helping others? Contact our Disaster Response team at DRM@SheepDogIA.org!