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 mass shooting on May 14, 2022, to the store, which has been 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 disruption of grocery service, as ten people lost their lives in the shooting
North American Division Adventist Community Services (NAD ACS) director W. Derrick Lea 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 ACS would be able to equip a team of 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. AAs a result, 15 dedicated people completed their three-day training and four ACS leaders have been chosen to lead different teams as they begin work 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 capacity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we will present ourselves to the public as one unit of ACS to avoid confusion for those with whom we work and serve,” Lea continued. “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.