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SBC Disaster Relief honors top volunteers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
DES MOINES, Iowa (BP) - Chuck Erikson of Garden Grove, Calif., an 18-year disaster relief volunteer, received the Robert E. Dixon Lifetime Service Award at the 2012 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Roundtable in Des Moines, Iowa, this month.

In presenting the Dixon award, California state DR director Don Hargis said Erikson was responsible for building the state's DR organization from just two units to more than 50.

"Chuck has helped train more than 3,000 volunteers from California and many other western states," Hargis said. "He has served during 70 different disasters, including those in other states and internationally."

The awards banquet honoring several DR volunteers is the highlight of the annual roundtable, where state, regional and national SBDR leaders set policies, plans and procedures to continue guiding the national Southern Baptist Convention network of some 82,000 volunteers.

The lifetime achievement award honors those who have distinguished themselves in disaster relief over a lifetime of exemplary service. It is named for Robert "Bob" Dixon, who in the 1960s was a guiding force and pioneer in the DR ministry of the Texas Baptist Men, then a ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

When Hurricane Beulah struck the Texas Rio Grande Valley in 1967, Dixon responded by preparing food via "buddy burners." This marked the first disaster response by Southern Baptists and is the precursor for today's SBDR.

Recipients of the annual Joel W. Phillips Outstanding Achievement Award were James Carson of Winnsboro, La., and Elaine Koch of Taylorsville, Ky.


The award is named for Phillips, who was a key and uniquely gifted leader in Georgia disaster relief for many years, serving until his death in 2004. He played a vital role in the development and growth of DR both in Georgia and at the North American Mission Board.

Carson, director of missions for Tri-Association Baptist Missions in northeast Louisiana, has served as coordinator of DR chaplains in that state and has spearheaded the training of more than 300 chaplains there. Gibbie McMillan, the state's DR director, nominated Carson for the Phillips award.

"James, 65, is always ready to go when called," McMillan said. "He always goes the extra mile to see that our disaster relief chaplains are trained properly."

Elaine Koch and her husband Larry have supported Kentucky DR since 1988. The winner was nominated by Kentucky state DR director Coy Webb.

"Her spirit is displayed in the fact she is cross-trained in feeding, chainsaw and mud-out," Webb said. "She demonstrates a servant-heart in all that she does, often volunteering for roles that others might shy away from."

Receiving Distinguished Service Awards for their 2011 outreach were Bob and Judi Cook of Magalia, Calif.; Ronnie Warren of Steele, Ala., and Lew Cook of Maysville, Ky.

From its disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., NAMB coordinates and manages Southern Baptist responses to major disasters in partnership with the SBC's 42 state conventions, most of which concurrently have their own state DR programs.


SBDR manages 82,000 trained volunteers, including chaplains, and about 1,550 mobile units for feeding, chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, childcare, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild and power generation. SBDR is one of the largest mobilizers of trained, credentialed DR volunteers in the United States, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

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Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( ) and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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