BY EMILY BRUNS
ROCHELLE—When tragedy strikes, the Hub Cluster forms and goes to where the help is needed. This group, which was founded nine years ago when Hurricane Katrina touched down on New Orleans, is the conglomeration of volunteers from nine surrounding Methodist churches.
The group is comprised of Ashton, Chana, Creston, Esmond, Franklin Grove, Lighthouse, Reynolds, Rochelle and Steward clergy members, ranging from students to retirees.
“About three weeks ago, six of the members drove to Marseilles to help with the flooding devastation. We go to the place in need and help,” said president Bill Vanstone.
“I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say that I enjoy the mission work. It’s fun getting to know people from area churches and do good deeds at the same time. We joke around and have fun. I also like hands-on projects, so the work appeals to me,” Vanstone added.
The crew’s latest endeavor, assembling wooden desks for African and Haitian schoolchildren, was of the unique variety, as they don’t typically outsource their volunteer work.
The Midwest Mission Distribution Center, a Christ-based disaster relief facility in Chatham, provides some of these volunteer ideas for the Hub Cluster. The mission of this center is to help people in need locally, nationally and around the world through compassion.
This spring, the distribution center representatives contacted Vanstone and said that the latest group of people in need of help were the students learning in unequipped schools in Africa and Haiti.
“Midwest asked us to build the desks. I asked them how many they wanted and they said as many as we could build,” Vanstone explained.
Following that discussion, Vanstone and fellow leader from Esmond, Diane Johnson, assembled the Hub Cluster volunteers — 18 signed up for the job and brought with them a variety of skills.
Over the spring months, the crew of all ages collected donations, assembled lumber and hardware, cut lumber and prepared the desks so that they could be easily assembled upon shipment.
“We couldn’t fully assemble the desks because that wouldn’t be very practical to ship, so we prepared them as much as we could and provided instructions for assembly when they are opened up overseas,” said Vanstone.
In order to support the Hub Cluster efforts, Maplehurst Farms donated a workshop area for the group to fulfill their goal of preparing 30 desks.
At this point in time, the group is finishing up sealing the desks so they can take the skids to Marseilles to be shipped to help children they will never see. Each desk will service four children, which will amount to 120.
The Hub Clusters volunteer group will continue with projects as needed and are always looking for more volunteers. For more information, call 815-562-2164. The next mission trip to Marseilles will be from Aug. 4 through 8 and is open to anyone interested. More information is also available by contacting any of the Hub Cluster churches.