Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kansas Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church and Riverside Medical Supply, Inc. Organizing Haiti Relief Effort

Ernst Borno, volunteer with Kansas Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church, loads a pallet of supplies donated by Riverside Medical Supply, Inc. onto a truck. Watching are Nyron McLean, coordinator of the Haiti relief effort the supplies will be used for (center), Art Corrica of Riverside Medical Supply, Inc. (right) and Kevin Channer, (left) a mutual friend of McLean and Corrica, who facilitated the donation by introducing the two of them. Photo by Chris Sloan
(RIVERSIDE, Calif.)  A local group of volunteers is collecting medical supplies desperately needed by residents of Haiti, and will travel there personally next month to make sure the supplies are delivered.

The group consists primarily of members of the Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church in Riverside.  For some of the group members, this will be their second trip to Haiti since the Jan. 12th earthquake.

The first trip to Haiti consisted of nine volunteers from varying professional disciplines:  Nyron McLean, a residential and commercial mortgage broker residing in Riverside; Nirma Usher, a nurse practitioner residing in Riverside; J. Francis, a nurse practitioner; Cheri Dixon, a videographer residing in Loma Linda; Michelle Hibbler, a laboratory technician and phlebotomy instructor residing in Moreno Valley; Dr. Nicceta Davis, a physical therapist; Ernst Borno, a businessman; and two other businessmen residing in the Inland Empire.

The group went to Haiti from April 21st through April 28th, staying mainly in the capital city of Port-Au-Prince and Montrouis – a community about one hour away. On that trip, they worked with children in a Haitian orphanage, helped the sick and injured in a medical clinic, and gave previously collected supplies to displaced people in tent cities that sprung up after the massive earthquake that struck on Jan. 12th.  The group also purchased and distributed bags of rice and beans to people living in the tent cities.

“There is a very significant need in Haiti,” said Nyron McLean, who organized the April trip and is currently organizing the June trip.  “There are many places where the Red Cross and the United Nations have simply been unable to reach.”

In the tent cities, residents told this team that the only previous relief workers to visit them were from the United States Army, in February.

One of the greatest needs in Haiti is for medical supplies, McLean said.  This group of volunteer relief workers will return to the medical clinic and tent cities which they visited in April.  This time, however, they will have plenty of medical supplies because Riverside Medical Supply, Inc. has donated eight pallets of medical supplies to the relief effort.

Riverside Medical Supply, Inc. is a low-cost solution to affordable medical supplies with distribution locations in California and Illinois.  Art Corrica, president and CEO of Riverside Medical Supply, Inc., wanted to donate these medical supplies to Haiti since learning of the earthquake, but had not found a group able to accept them.  He and McLean have a mutual friend, Kevin Channer, who put them in touch with each other.

“Being able to help people less fortunate than we are is important to us at Riverside Medical Supply, Inc.” said Corrica. “And we appreciate Nyron’s determination to make sure the supplies get to the people who need them most.”

In addition to Riverside Medical Supply, Inc.’s donation, the community has supported the group by donating clothes, money, medical supplies, canned food and coloring books and crayons for children from as far away as Minnesota, McLean said.

The recipients in Haiti will be grateful for all of these supplies, said Dr. Nicceta Davis, head elder for Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church and a member of the team that traveled to Haiti in April.

“I saw an enormous amount of gratitude from the people of Haiti at the things people are doing for them,” she said.  “But even though they were grateful, they seem to be almost paralyzed by the enormity of their problems, and the lack of resources.”

After receiving the donation of medical supplies from Riverside Medical Supply, Inc., the group from Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church will ship these and other donated items to Haiti. They’re sending the container via truck and rail to Miami, Florida.  Then a ship will transport the container to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The items are expected to get there early-to-mid June.

That gives the team time to finalize their June mission trip to Haiti.

“We want to be at the harbor at Port-Au-Prince when the ship arrives,” McLean said.  “Then we will take the supplies to where they are needed as fast as we can.”

This team hopes to make relief missions to Haiti every other month, McLean said.  On future missions, they intend to bring more supplies, but also encourage any doctors, dentists, nurses or other health care workers to come along to provide their expertise.  The team is also accepting financial donations to help them in their efforts. No amount is too small. A 25 kilogram (55 lbs.) bag of rice is about $30.  $250 will send a child to school for a year including books, uniforms, and tuition.

The group would also like to send people to Haiti for more than a one-week mission, McLean said.  Their goal is to send business people to Haiti, who can stay in the country, hire Haitians to assist them in their work, and train those Haitians to give them valuable skills that will lead to careers, new businesses, and a more sustainable economy for their nation.

The team members hope that by providing the Haitians with long-term solutions to their life needs, they will be able to give a new-found hope for the future to as many as possible.

“The Haitians have lived with a desperate situation for too long,” said Dr. Davis.

Anyone interested in donating or volunteering with the group’s humanitarian missions to Haiti is encouraged to call Nyron McLean at (714) 720-9354.  Donations can be mailed to the Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church, ATTN: Church Treasurer, 4491 Kansas Avenue, Riverside, CA  92517.

Kansas Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church is located in Riverside and was established in 1934.  It now serves a congregation of over 1,500 members as well as many others through various community-based ministries.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tea With Milk, Sugar and Lots of Love

Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of the San Bernardino Corps of the Salvation Army, pours tea into her collection of china teacups. She serves tea from these cups every Wednesday to the women she ministers to and with at the Salvation Army. 

Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of the San Bernardino  Corps of the Salvation Army, leads a group of women gathered for Tea at 2, a women’s ministry of The Salvation Army,  San Bernardino. Photo by Suzi Woodruff-Lacey.
(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Whether they are rich or poor, women often lead stress-filled lives.

Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of the San Bernardino Corps of the Salvation Army, is taking some of that stress away from the women she works with. Every Wednesday, she invites them to visit her for a cup of tea.

“I serve tea and cookies every Wednesday at 2 p.m. to any woman who is on the premises of the Salvation Army headquarters,” she said. “I serve hot tea, whether it’s cold or hot outside, because hot tea is fun. It’s good to just close the door once in awhile, have a cookie and a relaxing cup of tea.”

She calls this “Tea at 2.” She has been serving weekly teas since shortly after she and her husband Stephen became the San Bernardino Corps directors in 2007.

Recently, after learning of how Capt. Ball has changed women’s lives through her Tea at 2 program, the Kahului, Hawaii Salvation Army Corps implemented a similar program especially for the women at its emergency family shelter.

Capt. Ball serves the tea from her own collection of china pots, teacups and saucers. She single-handedly prepares four pots of tea, and pours each one into one of the colorful teacups with saucers.

Once every woman is served, Capt. Ball asks for prayer requests. Similarly to many other gatherings of Christian women, she’s bound to hear that the women around her need prayer for the health of their loved ones, for problems in their or their children’s relationships, or for blessings of employment or college scholarships.

But since this tea party takes place at the Salvation Army, the women’s requests can take on a tone not like those at most other women’s prayer meetings.

“I have a praise report,” says one woman. “We’re moving into an apartment this week.”

“My praise report is that my friend is no longer in an abusive relationship,” says another. “She has moved into Hospitality House.”

Most of the women taking part in the prayer meeting these days are staff or volunteers with the Salvation Army. Some take part in the Sunday worship services the Salvation Army offers, or are the mothers of children and teens who take part in its youth outreach programs.

Teenage girls in these outreach programs often take part in the teas too. At a recent tea, 18-year-old Sarai asked for prayer about a college scholarship she applied for then, shortly after the tea was over, left with her fellow members of the 2010 Salvation Army basketball team to compete in a tournament in Portland, Ore.

For more than two years, homeless women also made up a large portion of the crowd gathered into the Salvation Army headquarters meeting room. That’s when the Hospitality House emergency family shelter was operating out of the headquarters building.

“We need to keep praying for the women at Hospitality House,” says Dodie, a former staff member who attended the tea party recently for the first time in several months. During her time away, on February 1 of this year, Hospitality House moved out of the headquarters building and into its own building about 1.5 miles away.

“We prayed for Hospitality House during the transition for two years,” she said. “But now we don’t have the same regular interaction with those women.”

For some time, the women discussed ways to continue helping the homeless women – and those women who recently moved out of Hospitality House – stay connected with everything The Salvation Army has to offer them.

Dodie, who lives near the headquarters building, keeps an eye out for women who go there after business hours, only to find no one is there. She’s prayed with some of those women, given many directions to the new shelter, and in one case, walked with a woman to the shelter.

Other women are giving the Hospitality House residents rides over to the headquarters building, or if they have already left the Hospitality House, calling them to remind them they can still take part in The Salvation Army’s other ministries. For the youth, The Salvation Army offers transportation to its ministries.

“It’s about loving your neighbor,” Capt. Ball said. “The Salvation Army is all about giving people a place to belong. We’re a place where there is someone to walk with you and pray with you.”

About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.

For local help, call the San Bernardino Corps headquarters at (909) 888-1337.