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Disaster relief agency 's building named for dedicated volunteers

"Your work is not forgotten," Mike Greenwell said Saturday.

He lifted a cover that had concealed the official name of a disaster relief agency's new storage building south of Thomson.

The Glenn "Tug" Hadden and Jimmy Steptoe Building now serves Unit 2F, a feeding unit that has served thousands of meals after tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Steptoe was on hand to acknowledge the honor.

Mildred Hadden was grateful for the honor for her late husband, who died May 8, 2010.

"I think it was wonderful that they did this," she said. "He wanted to do this work so badly, and I'm glad he had the chance."

Steptoe said he has been a volunteer since the 1980s and has served after Hurricanes Hugo, Andrew and Katrina, and after a California earthquake.

Kathy Williams, a volunteer, said she loved working with Hadden. "He was so involved in everything -- church, family, friendship, behind the scenes, everything," she said.

Greenwell directs the Unit 2F feeding office for the Georgia branch of the Southern Baptist Convention. The group's new storage building is behind the Kilpatrick Baptist Association office south of Sweetwater Park on Wrens Highway. The Thomson-based association represents about 30 churches in 26 counties.

The association operates food services at state and national natural disasters.

Steptoe and Mildred Hadden accepted plaques honoring "loyal, dedicated, hard working" volunteers.

The framed resolution says the honorees "were both instrumental in the concept, development, acquisition of funding and basic design of the building."

The association's trucks waited outside during the ceremony. Inside, guests enjoyed refreshments and milled around a 120-gallon tilting steam kettle that stood almost as tall as the people who surrounded it. "I don't want to see the disaster that they put that thing to work," said one visitor.

That vessel had seen service, though, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005. The pot cooks "from beef stew to whatever," said Mary Wade Bell.

"Now, when Katrina hit, we went there and fed thousands of people a day," said Cindy Greenwell, the wife of the Unit 2F director. "In Katrina, we were feeding probably 5,000 people a day."

She said Unit 2F was called when tornadoes hit Alabama and then raked Georgia in April. "We were called to Madison," she said. "We did what we call low-level feeding, and we fed the disaster recovery people who were cleaning up from the storm."

"When we're called in by the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, they usually buy the food," she said. "But for low-level feeding, it's all us."

She holds the title of a blue hat. That means she is qualified to set up a site and to work directly with the site commander.

"But most of the time I just like to pitch in and do whatever I can to help," she said.

David Reynolds, the volunteer director for Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, commended those who serve when called. "Anyone can sign up and take the training," he said. "But not everyone can handle disaster relief."

"I believe God puts people together for special reasons," he said. "He puts teams together."

"I see my job as kind of clearing a path sometimes to allow our volunteers to show the love of Christ in disaster situations," he said.

He said his work takes him to scenes where FEMA and the Red Cross are working. Baptist relief groups are known for serving from 5,000 to 30,000 meals a day, he said. "It's a great blessing to see the respect that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has," he said.

Tim Batchelor, the associational missionary for the Kilpatrick Baptist Association, said he is grateful for the group's leadership over the years and the services that result from their planning.

Bruce Poss, an associate pastor and youth minister at Marshall Baptist Church, was on hand for the dedication. Poss was the director of Kilpatrick Baptist Association for several years. He said local volunteers took the initiative to establish such a service. "Chris Smith went to Hugo and got the idea that something needs to be done here for disaster relief," Poss said.

Greenwell also commended Henrietta Nowill, the call-out person. Nowill takes the call when emergency assistance has been approved, and then alerts volunteers and calls them out according to a rotation. "You don't want them getting worn out, because it's hard work," she said.

Thomson Mayor Ken Usry congratulated the group on their new building. "You're doing a real ministry to people in need," he said.

"These folks are providing a wonderful service," Usry said later. "They're dedicated."

Kilpatrick Baptist Association is at 1784 Wrens Highway. Donations to the disaster-relief agency can be mailed to Post Office Box 895, Thomson, GA 30824.

Web posted on Thursday, October 06, 2011

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