Main Menu

United Methodist youth rally around Arcadia community (Aug. 31, 2004)

United Methodist youth rally around Arcadia community (Aug. 31, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

United Methodist youth rally around Arcadia community

Aug. 31, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0153}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

ARCADIA — Beneath sunny, blue skies and with the smell of hamburgers and hotdogs wafting off the grill, there was little talk of the widespread devastation left by Hurricane Charley one week earlier. Instead, there was talk of the future at a community barbecue held Aug. 21 at Trinity United Methodist Church here and provided by United Methodist youth in the conference.

While national, state and local United Methodist Church groups have gathered at Trinity to offer relief and recovery from the storm, which damaged roughly 20 percent of the state, including Arcadia, the Rev. David Harris, pastor of Trinity thought it would be a good idea to get the youth involved. Church youth groups came from across the state to lend a helping hand to the church and its neighbors and offer residents a chance to relax through a barbecue/block party.

ARCADIA — Clint Mitchell, left, and Zack Yowarski take a break at Trinity United Methodist Church here Aug. 21 after clearing the debris Hurricane Charley left behind from residents' yards. Youth from churches throughout the Florida Conference volunteered to help storm victims in Arcadia and act as hosts for a barbecue/block party at the church. Photo by J.A. Buchholz, Photo #04-0084.

Clint Mitchell, a youth member of First United Methodist Church, Palmetto, spent the day taking food, water and cleaning supplies from the church to the cars of storm victims and removing debris in an elderly man's yard.

Zack Yowarski, also a youth member from First United Methodist Church, Palmetto, said it felt good to help residents after helplessly watching the extent of damage unfold on television.

Charles Rowley, youth minister at the Palmetto church, said a 21 of the church's youth eagerly descended on Arcadia to show and share their faith.

 "We're a connectional system," Rowley said. "We're a part of that connection, and we wanted to do our part. The motto at our church is 'Neighbors helping neighbors', and that's what we're doing today."

People like Queenie Williams appreciate the help that's pouring into Arcadia, which is only 20 to 30 miles from the area Charley made landfall. Williams heard about the block party through friends. The 20-year Arcadia resident said she stopped by the church to pick up clothing and other supplies after experiencing window and roof damage to her home.

Kevin Kennard, a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, Bradenton, near Tampa, spent some of his time 'drying in' homes-preventing continued water damage from almost daily rain. He and a group of 10 people covered damaged roofs with a combination of plywood and felt paper to temporarily stop contents inside the homes from additional damage. The group also removed fallen trees from yards.

"I feel that we were spared the wrath of the storm that was supposed to hit us, and now I'm doing my part to help them," he said.

ARCADIA — Queenie Williams sifts through clothes provided at Trinity United Methodist Church here during the church’s block party Aug. 21. The event was designed to bring the community together after the devastation left by Hurricane Charley Aug. 13. Youth from across the conference volunteered in the community that day and served as the event's hosts. Photo by J.A. Buchholz, Photo #04-0085.

The storm was originally projected to hit the Tampa area, but changed course early in the afternoon Aug. 13.

Ora Woodard also appreciates the help people are giving in her hometown. She was driving through the area in search of water when the block party caught her attention.

"A tree fell on my house and just about destroyed everything," she said. "But what the devil meant to mess with us, God has blessed us. It's been a real blessing to still have my home and have no one get hurt and to be able to come to places like this and get help."

Chodaesessie Morgan, a member of St. James United Methodist Church, Tampa, said a group of 50 people from her church were at Trinity that day to help. They spent the day doing minor household repairs at people's homes and removing debris from their yards.

"We were sitting waiting for the storm to hit us in Tampa, and it came here," Morgan said. "If it had hit us, the people here would have come to help us, so we wanted to be here for them."

That's the idea that made Thomas Bialk, a youth member at Harvest United Methodist Church, Land O' Lakes, want to volunteer. He was taking a break at the barbecue after spending much of the day unloading donated supplies at the church.

"I wanted to do something after seeing everything on television," he said. "If people need help, you're supposed to help."

Chad Henk, also a youth member at Harvest United Methodist Church, Land O' Lakes, said the day just wasn't about volunteer work. It also involved a time to be in fellowship with other youth.

"It's been fun," he said. "We were able to help people and also have a good time."

Florida Conference United Methodists are encouraged to send contributions to "Florida Storm Recovery Fund" Conference Special #605 to their local church. Church offerings should be sent to the Florida Conference Treasurer, The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 3767, Lakeland, FL 33802.

Individuals or groups interested in coordinating a group to assist with Hurricane Charley relief and recovery efforts should contact the Florida Storm Recovery Center at 1-800-282-8011, extension 149. The Florida Conference Storm Recovery Team can be contacted by e-mail at

For conference news and updates related to Hurricane Charley go to


This article relates to Florida Conference Disaster Response.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.