Community services

Adventist Community Service Volunteers Expand Help in Buffalo, New York, Community

On Sunday, May 22, in Buffalo, New York, as Adventist Community Service volunteers completed their training on how to help individuals in the community, people paid their respects in the street outside the Tops Friendly Market grocery store. Although fewer than the previous two days, the flow of visitors was steady.

This community is still reeling from the May 14, 2022 mass shooting at the store, which was closed, leaving a gaping hole in the community as it is the only supermarket for miles around. And the community’s toll extends beyond the grocery service disruption, as ten people lost their lives in the shooting.

Several members of the ACS volunteer group, trained to become emotional and spiritual caregivers in Buffalo, New York, pose with NAD ACS Executive Director Derrick Lea (front row, center). [Photo provided by NAD ACS]

W. Derrick Lea, director of Adventist Community Services North American Division (NAD ACS) has worked to pave the way for ACS to help this community. In addition to the local ACS assessing the physical and emotional needs of the community, Lea met with local leaders from various National Disaster Services and the American Red Cross to advise that the ACS would be able to equip a team emotional and spiritual care to help those affected by the mass shooting. “Our team members are well trained. Their presence will benefit both the local Red Cross and the community,” said Lea.

The Northeast and New York conferences provided support by immediately sending people for intensive NAD ACS training. As a result, 15 dedicated individuals have completed their three-day training and four ACS leaders have been chosen to lead different teams as they begin to ensure that the ACS volunteer team is able to help the community.

“ACS reacted similarly throughout NAD after mass shootings over the past five years,” Lea said. Orlando, El Paso, Aurora and Parkland are some of the cities where ACS has provided emotional and spiritual assistance.

“As we have done previously, using the capability of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we will present ourselves to the public as one ACS unit to avoid confusion for those with whom we work and serve,” continued Leah. “The excitement of [help] shown by the participants is encouraging, and plans are being finalized that will ensure our ACS teams will be in the community this week. We see the strength of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in serving communities all over the NAD, both in times of crisis and throughout the year.

This article originally appeared on the North American Division news site