BEAVERTON – In recent weeks we have seen more than ever before how this community pulls together to help one another during a time of crisis. On Monday, May 18, darkness fell as an unsurmountable amount of rain caused two dams to breach which destroyed homes in Beaverton and the surrounding areas. People came out of the darkness and did what our community does, they immediately got to work. Those who were flooded by the waters of our lakes were flooded a second time by those who showed up to help by providing physical hands-on assistance and/or delivering much needed food and water, cleaning and personal supplies. That’s what the community does, ‘love thy neighbor’ is alive and well in Beaverton. However, we have also discovered that this is also true when we look beyond our neighborhoods, our city, our county, or even our state.
The Tobacco Township Flood Relief Distribution Center recently welcomed a group of young students from Rudyard, Michigan, located in the Upper Peninsula, as well as friends from Grand Valley State University, an they have named themselves the “S’more Helpers.” These students decided to “break out of quarantine” pack up their sleeping bags and a few tents and travel to where they knew there was an opportunity to make a difference.
With a personal connection to the Erin and Casey Wohlschlegel family, Hannah Beelen, a Grand Valley State University student from Rudyard, arranged for a campout in the Wohlschlegel backyard and showed up with a dozen friends, some tools and supplies, and a plan to get some work done. They started out by making over 100 sack lunches on Monday morning, all of which were delivered to flood victims in the hardest hit areas of Beaverton. They unloaded trucks and trailers of supplies at the Tobacco Township Flood Relief center and delivered boxes of much needed water, food, personal and cleaning supplies to those in need.
“What inspired me to gather my friends was my love for community and helping others who are in need, God has blessed me with so much and this is the least I could do to share those blessing with others,” says Hannah. This philosophy is proof that the spirit of community extends well beyond the community which immediately surrounds our homes.
The S’more Helpers unloaded 17 pallets, 1,020 cases, 25,000 bottles of water, and also spent their days hanging insulation and preparing houses for rebuild. Hannah added that her take away from this experience was to treasure what she does have and use it for the greater good of the community even if it’s not her direct community. She said the hardest thing she saw was a couple who lost literally everything they held close to them. “As I helped gut their house and watched them throwing away their memories including pictures from when they first started dating many years back and pictures of their loved ones and their parents who passed away many years ago, I knew this was going to be an experience that would live in my heart always.”
The S’more Helpers want to remind us all that if there are those who are able to go out and give of their time, there are many people who still need help. They said they found that even being a listening ear is a way to help. They left feeling very appreciated and rewarded by the outpouring of support they received. Hannah added, “the greatest thing I saw was the humility of the people in this community. So often we would ask people what they needed, and they would say ‘we are okay, but I know my neighbors need things.’ Even though everyone needed something, it seems that they were all looking out for their neighbors and were more concerned with what others needed.” Because that’s what our community does.