Friday, November 05, 1999

Tornado victims find a home and friends

Enquirer Contributor

        CLARKSVILLE — Mark Warnock lost his mobile home to the April tornado, but today he has not only a new house, but dozens of new friends.

        About 40 Quakers, men and women from several states, spent last week building a five-room ranch home for Mr. Warnock; his wife, Beth; and their 9-year-old son in Clinton County just east of the Warren County line.

        Volunteers roofed the home and installed mechanicals and fixtures. The Warnocks must install doors, wallpaper and carpeting, and do the interior painting.

        The family could move in by the end of November.

        “They just find it in their heart to help a stranger,” said Mr. Warnock, a truck driver. “And the best part about it, we've met a lot of new people and we're all just like family now. We're overwhelmed by it.”

        The family was staying in a hotel after losing everything when the Friends Disaster Service, a Quaker social service agency, called.

        “They told me they could rebuild for me,” Mr. Warnock said. “All I had to do was come up with the foundation and material. They took it from there.”

        Friends Disaster Service was formed in 1974 after deadly tornadoes ripped through Xenia, Ohio, and other Midwestern towns. The agency, now working across most of the country, rebuilds and repairs homes lost in natural disasters, national coordinator Dean Johnson said.

        They have built about 30 homes and rehabilitated hundreds, Mr. Johnson said. The Quakers also work with the American Red Cross and other agencies.

        Individual volunteers pay their own way to the job sites but are housed and fed by other Quakers while there.

        “They bring a lot of skills together,” Mr. Johnson said. “We have a lot of really skilled carpenters. A lot of our guys are retired, a few are self employed. We developed some really unique relationships.”

        The Quakers worked in the Midwest after the tornadoes and in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. They have no paid employees and operate with volunteers, donations and a yearly fund-raiser.

        The organization keeps more than a dozen mobile tool trailers ready and is based at Mr. Johnson's home near Akron, Ohio.

        Quakers demonstrate their faith by their actions, Mr. Johnson said.

        “They treat us like gold,” Mr. Warnock said. “It's really amazing how they came in and just took me under their wing. I never dreamed there were people in the world like that.”


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