“Heroes and Hand Raisers” is a new series created by United Way of Midland County in partnership with Midland Daily News. Each week, snapshots of volunteerism and human generosity—via quotes, photos, snippets and stories—will shine a spotlight on those who are impacting our community by raising their hand to help meet the needs of their neighbors.
There are many hand raisers associated with the West Midland Family Center (WMFC). They are willing and motivated to help, whether its WMFC staff members, family, friends, patrons and donors.
In particular, the job of matching helping hands with tasks to accomplish is the responsibility of Helen Roth, director of the WMFC Connect and Serve Volunteer Program. In all things volunteer-related, Helen is the organizer, the connector of people to services, the motivator. No matter how messy or possibly unpleasant the chore, Helen is right in there, working with the volunteers she has recruited. Never has this been more the case than in recent months with the overwhelming needs brought on by COVID-19 and the devastating flooding.
When the flood hit on May 19, thousands of Midland County families were displaced by broken dams and ensuing flood waters. WMFC opened an emergency shelter that provided individuals and families safety from the storm. As community members returned home once the flood waters descended, it became abundantly clear that countless families were in dire straits.
In stepped Helen to coordinate volunteer efforts.
She began recruiting those she knew, her own family, other WMFC staff members and their families and friends. The goal was simple: help one family “muck-out” the remains of their flood-ravaged home. Helen found so many volunteers that instead of helping one family that first afternoon, her WMFC volunteer team helped three families remove the waterlogged contents from their homes.
As the needs grew more apparent, so did Helen’s plan. She pursued referrals from United Way of Midland County, and upon completion of each task, Helen knocked door-to-door in pursuit of additional people in need of help. Over the course of a week and a half, Helen and her team assisted 11 homes.
Among those helping were Scott Cronkright, junior varsity baseball coach at Bullock Creek High School. He had a team of young men anxious to join Helen’s team of volunteers. Scott is also a first responder with the Lee Township Fire Department and clearly has a value for helping others.
Helen’s daughter is a member of the Bullock Creek Robotics Team, and Helen called on her connections there to find another team of helpful youth to join WMFC volunteer efforts.
With a desire to address needs brought about by COVID-19 and wide-spread flooding, Helen has coordinated nearly 90 volunteers who have worked to alleviate the suffering of others. WMFC volunteers have dispensed food through highly coordinated surplus food distributions, gone door to door with buckets of cleaning supplies, and provided bottled water to home owners and other volunteers. Household items such as beds and hot water heaters have also been allocated and donated.
With much coordination by Helen and others — along with collaboration with countless organizations and businesses, volunteers and donations — WMFC has helped hundreds of community members in need to the benefit of all involved.