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Handbell Groups Give Generously to Help Others in Need
As we reach the end of another calendar year, we look back and reflect on events from 2017. One of the things that impacted handbell choirs were natural disasters. From hurricanes and the related flooding and wind damage to earthquakes to fires; it seemed as if no one was unaffected, perhaps not personally, but through friendships and professional contacts. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, many people asked “What can we do to help?” Churches, community organizations, and individuals joined national disaster response teams in reaching out to assist the hardest hit regions.
In the Houston area, Stevie Berryman kept us informed about the efforts of Area 9 and the Greater Houston Handbell Association to provide replacement equipment and bell restoration to churches they were able to identify as needing assistance.
From Raleigh, NC, the Raleigh Ringers “adopted” a church in Beaumont, TX and worked with us here at Jeffers to purchase and donate items to help them get back to ringing.
For Puerto Rico, the rebuilding has only begun to happen. With island-wide devastation to basic infrastructure, such as electricity and waste treatment facilities, the needs are much different. Linda Maloney, who traveled to Puerto Rico with Twin Cities Bronze in June, 2017, has been in contact with a colleague in Puerto Rico, who is providing updates on needed supplies.
In this season of giving, we’d like to recognize how the handbell community reached out to those in need.
Two online forms were created for groups in the Houston area: one for bell choirs with flood damage and one for people who had used equipment to donate. Three bell choirs received “new” equipment; Northshore Friends Church and Bridgepoint Bible Church in Houston and United Methodist Temple in Port Arthur. (links provided are to each church’s web page)
Foam, tables and cases for bells and chimes went to Northshore Friends Church. Bridgepoint Bible Church received bell cases. United Methodist Temple received tables and cases for their bells and chimes. All three churches received a 50% discount on music from Sonology to help replace lost music.
In addition, the Houston Chamber Ringers hosted a Handbell Refurbishment Day on Saturday, September 30th. Participating organizations were: River City Ringers, Austin Handbell Ensemble, Houston Chamber Ringers, Lakewood United Methodist Jubellation, Kinsman Lutheran Church Jubilee Ringers, and Kinsman Lutheran Church Kinsman Ringers. Both Malmark Bellcraftsmen and Schulmerich Handbells donated replacement parts and sent technicians to oversee the refurbishment.
United Methodist Temple was also put in touch with Dave Harris, director of The Raleigh Ringers. Working with us here at Jeffers, the Raleigh Ringers were able to purchase foam and table covers at a discount to donate to United Methodist Temple.
The goal for Area 9, the Greater Houston Handbell Association, the Raleigh Ringers and all of the volunteers who donated equipment, supplies, and time was to get these bell choirs back up and ringing for the Christmas season. We are happy to report that every need expressed by these three choirs was met! You can read their individual stories and see photos of the progress on each church’s Facebook page: Bridgepoint Bible Church, Northshore Friends Church, and United Methodist Temple.
In Puerto Rico, the devastation was island-wide. Fortunately, the Second Union Church in Guaynabo did not suffer any structural damage and was able to provide relief efforts from their facilities. Carlos Rivera, a colleague of Linda Maloney, has kept Linda updated on the recovery process. One of the very first communications we received from Second Union Church, through Linda, was the following letter.
As you know, Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane María and we are doing everything we can to reach out to those in our nearby communities to help them with the recovery process. It will be a long road as absolutely everyone on the island has been affected, many have lost their homes and their businesses. We are still without power, internet, and consistent cell phone communication.
Our church did not suffer structural damage, so we are in a position to provide relief from our facilities.
There are many organizations that are receiving funding, and we encourage you to become a part of the relief effort by donating to one of the organizations such as the Red Cross, Unidos por Puerto Rico, Samaritan's Purse, etc.
We are receiving financial contributions as well as donations of much needed items at Second Union Church. You can visit our website and make a contribution through PayPal or purchase items on our Wish List at Amazon.com. We are in a position to help people who have immediate needs.
We would appreciate it if you could share this with others! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I'll do whatever I can to get back to you!
May God bless you,
Christie Curie Zoba 787-717-4001
From a subsequent email from Linda in early November, we received this update: As of October 30th, 85% of Puerto Rico remains without electricity and regular sources for clean drinking water. Carlos also sent this information via a text to Linda: "Food and water are getting to the mountain areas with more frequency. I've been able to get water enough and when I'm low in water, I find a new place to buy more. I'm still going to Aibonito a couple of times per week to bring supplies to family and neighbors. We are getting out of the desperation mode and more into the 'new normal' mode. It is hard without electricity and water in many places. I think we are getting used to live like this for the time being. Second Union Church as made a wonderful job distributing food and supplies to more remote areas still in need."
There is a list of continuing needs on Second Union Church’s relief efforts page and the Amazon Wish List is updated as current needs are met and new needs arise. You can follow the rebuilding progress on Second Union Church’s Facebook page.
The Handbell Musicians of America are also providing a means for Puerto Rican handbell musicians to attend the 2018 National Seminar. From their web page: We have had requests from our members and fellow handbell musicians in Puerto Rico to establish a scholarship fund to assist those impacted by Hurricane Maria attend National Seminar. All donations given to this fund will go toward registration fees, travel, and lodging for a handbell musician in Puerto Rico to attend National Seminar 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan next July.
Scholarships will be awarded by a committee of HMA staff and board members and members in Puerto Rico.
An application form will be available on the National Seminar website starting January 2018.
All contributions are tax deductible.
From 1st Kings, the 19th chapter (vs 11 & 12): The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Yes, the powerful winds and flooding of Hurricanes Harvey & Maria, the earthquakes around the world, and the wildfires in the U.S. have all impacted us in one way or another, and yet the “still, small voice of calm” (Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by John Greenleaf Whittier), the Lord’s voice, is heard, and seen, through the generosity of our handbell community.
As you rush around this holiday season, buying presents for your loved ones, attending parties, and preparing food for holiday meals, pause for just a moment to remember those who have lost so much in natural disasters this past year. We rejoice that through the efforts of our extended handbell family, some of those people will have a little bit brighter holiday this year.