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On a Mission: Helping Restore Storm-ravaged Kentucky Community

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For 262 residents in Kentucky’s Clay County, home for the holidays held new meaning as they, together with help from AdventHealth team members from the Manchester campus and elsewhere, spent much of the second half of 2022 piecing back together lives severely impacted by heavy storms and floods in July. Thirty AdventHealth Manchester team members were among those affected, including three whose homes were destroyed.

A total of $120,152 – including $96,162 in payroll contributions – was donated to restoration efforts in the community served by AdventHealth Manchester. As for the team members who showed up to pitch in wherever they were most needed, whether it was mucking out houses, pulling down damp insulation or, later, rebuilding stairs and decks: Priceless.

Six mission groups were already scheduled to visit the area before the flood, according to David Watson, director of engineering for AdventHealth Manchester, where he’s worked for 35 years. Watson also wears a second hat as emergency management director of Clay County, after being asked to step in about 15 years ago when the county needed help. Watson’s ability to access resources for countywide disasters coupled with “the hospital’s love for the community” help set the stage for rapid emergency responses.

Kentucky is one of a dozen Global Missions footprints, and the only one in the U.S. Clay County, where the hospital is located, is among the state’s poorest counties. Because of its longstanding work to meet community needs through grants received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Healthy Homes Initiative, Watson said AdventHealth Manchester was chosen as a Global Missions Initiative site in 2019.

The hospital’s mission work in the community began about 15 years ago, Watson explained, when a management team there put together funding to build a ramp for a homeowner. While the work was important, Watson said, “beyond that, getting outside to the work site, allowed clinical and non-clinical managers to get to know one another.”

Since then, the team’s work helping ensure that patients return home to a healthy environment has expanded from serving 20-30 patients a year to 60-80, Watson said.

Soon after the flood, team members from AdventHealth Gordon, AdventHealth Murray and AdventHealth Redmond in Georgia arrived and spent a week in a “little country church,” lending helping hands to the Manchester team, who were assisting their own colleagues as well as others in the community. Since July, more than 20 mission groups have visited, including an October visit from an AdventHealth Global Missions team of volunteers, led by Sergio Torres, senior manager for AdventHealth’s Spiritual Ambassadors program.

After helping restore a home for its owner to return for Thanksgiving, one of those volunteers, Lourdes Texidor, a communications specialist for AdventHealth Information Technology, said, “I am so grateful for the humbling experience and getting to meet great new friends in the process.” She also thanked the Manchester team “for providing us with food and those amazing devotions that really helped inspire us daily.”

Kudos to the Manchester leadership team also came from Lynn Janzen, director of laboratory services for AdventHealth Gordon and Murray. “They were not only caring and spirit-filled, but creative and practical problem-solvers constantly developing strategies to meet the people, literally, where they live.”

As the year drew to a close, the last of the families was able to return to their home in time for the holidays. In January, the team will undertake a complete teardown and rebuilding of a home.

When it comes to AdventHealth Manchester’s role in the community, Watson said, “If there’s a need here, we’re here to help.”

Besides sharing time and talent in 2022, AdventHealth team members from across the system also answered the call for donations to assist with other urgent needs, national and international. Including the dollars received to aid in flood recovery, a total of $551,523 was donated to relief efforts. Of that total amount, AdventHealth team members contributed via payroll deduction $85,963 for the Avista, Colorado, fires; $164,497 for Ukraine; and $75,895 for Hurricane Ian in Florida.

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