Saturday, October 22, 2011

Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Unit Director Roundtable

This years Unit Director Roundtable was held at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa, GA.  What a beautiful piece of property we have in the North Georgia Mountains.  And this time of year is absolutely gorgeous with the leaves beginning to change and the daytime temps staying in the 60's. 
I left Savannah around midday on Thursday and arrived in Toccoa just before 6:00pm.  Checked in at the conference center then went back to town to grab some dinner.  Got back to the room in time for Game 2 of the World Series then remembered that there are no televisions in the rooms at the center.  Tried to find a radio statioin that was carrying the game with no luck.  So I used the "TuneIn Radio" app on my phone to listen to the game.  Cell coverage isn't that great up there but I managed to hold a connection for the whole game.

Joined the group for breakfast in the dining hall on Friday morning.  Met up with the other three communications guys, Felton, Horace, and Ed and caught up on what we've been up to since we met last year at the conference center in Norman Park, GA.  Great group of guys.

After breakfast all of the unit directors began the roundtable with our State Director, Stuart Lang.  Stuart provided an update on all of the activities that the ministry has been involved in over this last year.  Wow, it's been a busy year providing disaster relief services for a number of weather related events all across the country.  Many people accepted Christ through thier interaction with disaster relief volunteers.  This ministry's purpose is  "Serving Christ in Crisis" and meets the physical needs of disaster victims.  The Holy Spirit does the rest.

You can see more details about this awesome ministry at the Georgia Baptist Convention website.

After the main session, each ministry area (Cleanup and Recovery, Feeding, Childcare, Chaplaincy, Communications) held individual breakout sessions.  In the Communication Session we discussed our activities of this last year, activities for the coming year, the need to add more radio operators to the team, specific needs of our comm units, etc.  I gave a report of the fine work that our team in the Warner Robbins area did with Unit 5C over the last several months. 

After lunch everyone convened together again to give reports from the breakout sessions.  Felton gave our report and did a fine job.  After all of the unit reports, Stuart provided an overview of the Incident Command Structure (ICS) and how it matches up with our current command structure.  ICS provides a common system and language for all agencies involved in a relief effort.  Most of us that are part of ARES understand this system and have recieved training on it so nothing really new for most of the communications team.

We had a little bit of free time after the session so I walked around the grounds and marveled at the beautiful facility nestled in the Georgia Mountains.  There is a nice lake at the center and I took some pictures as I wandered around.  So quiet and peaceful.

Around 5:00 we all met in the rotunda for a volunteer appreciation dinner.  We had an awesome dinner and we got to hear a young lady from Alamo, GA sing a song that she wrote that will be the soundtrack for an upcoming video about the Disaster Relief Ministry.  After dinner we heard from our guest speaker, Charlie English, who is the Director for Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).  He gave a very inspiring talk about GEMA and the relationship with the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry.

After dinner I went back to the room and caught up on email and Facebook and did some reading. television.  So I listened to a local high school football game on the radio!  It was nice to slow down for a couple of days.

Up early on Saturday for breakfast and to checkout.  Since it was early I decided to look around Toccoa before heading back to Savannah.  What a great idea that was.  More about that in my next post.

I owe a special thanks to my church, Southside Baptist for thier support in this ministry.

Entrance to the Conference Center

My seat at the table, representing Communications Unit 5C

GEMA Director Charlie English