Feeding Trailer Donated to Southern Baptist Region 5 Disaster Relief
(Sarah Pridgeon photo) Suzette Livingston hands over the keys to the kitchen trailer to Mickey Caison, Executive Director Disaster Relief of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, as representatives from the Crook County Fire Fighters Auxilliary and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief come together to celebrate the unit’s donation. According to Caison, the trailer will be named in honor of the county that created it as it becomes part of the SBDR fleet across an eight-state area.
By Sarah Pridgeon
Due to funding difficulties, the Crook County Fire Fighters Auxiliary (CCFFA) held a celebratory retirement last week for the kitchen trailer that was launched in 2012 to feed local emergency responders during large disasters.
The kitchen has been donated to the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR), a ministry of the North American Mission Board, which will use it to respond to emergencies across an eight-state area.
“It’s going to be used in the western part of the United States. It will be housed in Colorado and then it can go anywhere in the United States to bring help, hope and healing to people that are in need during disasters,” said Dennis Belz, Colorado Baptist Disaster Relief, who introduced the CCFFA to the organization.
Most of the kitchens the SBDR already owns are unloaded from trailers and set up in parking lots or tents to serve volunteers. Mickey Caison, Executive Director Disaster Relief of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, praised the self-contained construction of the trailer and how functional it will be, particularly during winter deployments.
“I understand the investment that you all have made into this piece of equipment. It’s not retiring, it’s reassigned,” said Caison.
“I want to thank you for your willingness to partner with us on this. Right now there are over 70,000 Southern Baptists who are trained across the U.S. and almost 17,000 mobile units just like this…We’re in there pretty quick behind [the first responders]. It’s going to become a part of something that’s very important.”
The CCFFA has managed the kitchen trailer for the last few years as a benefit for county residents. It was designed to feed around 150 firefighters and first responders in the event of a large disaster.
As the organization is run entirely on donations, said CCFFA Chairman Suzette Livingston, it has a responsibility to its sponsors to reduce its overhead expenses. Efforts to place the trailer under the county’s insurance failed to pan out due to a disagreement over control of how and where it would be used.
“They wanted to come under the county’s insurance and we really didn’t have a problem with that, but if it comes under the county’s insurance then the county really should have some kind of control over what they are doing with that trailer, because it essentially becomes county property,” explains Commissioner Jeanne Whalen.
“They didn’t want to give up that control of it. It just wouldn’t fit into how we do business and that’s why it didn’t work.”
Without other options, the CCFFA sought other organizations to help the mobile kitchen fulfill its purpose.
“We were beginning to get very discouraged trying to find a home. This county couldn’t accommodate it,” said Livingston.
The organization it eventually found, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, works nationally to respond to some of the largest disasters on the continent, including Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Katrina and the water disaster in Flint, Michigan. One of the stipulations that the CCFFA made as part of the donation is that the trailer be used only to assist in an eight-state area that includes Wyoming.
The idea for the trailer was born in 2010 to assist the CCFFA in its mission of keeping firefighters fed and supported during large events.
“Wyoming Office of Homeland Security was very instrumental in assisting us with funding initially,” said Jim Pridgeon, who brought the idea for the kitchen to the CCFFA while he was Emergency Manager and, along with Fire Warden Gari Gill, secured the trailer itself.
Funds were then secured to develop the trailer through Homeland Security, monies from the Thorne Divide Fire in 2006 and various fundraisers. K&K Customs also donated around $25,000-worth of labor to complete the kitchen, said Livingston.
Since it was formally introduced to the public in 2012, the county has not needed to deploy the unit as no large disasters have occurred, said Livingston.
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