Volunteers make it easier for wheelchair-bound boy to stay safe

ASHVILLE, Ala. (BP) — For 12-year-old Gabe Wise and his family, severe weather warnings have always signaled the start of a tedious process of moving to a safer location. Now, Gabe and his family can find shelter from the storms a little closer to home thanks to a cooperative effort between local church volunteers, Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and the WMU Foundation HEART Fund.
James Sampley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ashville, Ala., got to know Gabe as a result of the cleanup and rebuilding efforts following major storms that tore through north Alabama in April 2011. The Wises’ mobile home was damaged but not destroyed in the storms. As volunteers from First Baptist Ashville and Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, Ala., helped repair the damage, they learned more about the needs of the family.

“Gabe is confined to a wheelchair and dependent on a ventilator to breathe,” Sampley said. “His grandfather told me about the procedure they had to go through to get him out of the house and to someone’s basement when a storm was coming and then to get him back home once the storm was over.”
As a result of that conversation, Sampley began to look for funds to build a storm shelter near the Wise home. He contacted Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama WMU, and soon the WMU Foundation was involved as well.

The WMU Foundation provided a $2,000 grant for building supplies to the Ashville church, through the HEART Fund, a ministry of the foundation that seeks to aid in rebuilding efforts in the United States and around the world after natural disasters. The remaining $1,500 for supplies was provided by Alabama WMU.

“After some discussion, (WMU Foundation president) David George and I realized this would be a project that we could partner together on,” McIntosh said. “It has been wonderful to see how First Baptist, Ashville, and the community have rallied around Gabe.”
( Read more of the above story here. )

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