KINGSPORT, Tenn. -- On April 28, 2011, a tornado ravaged Glade Spring, Virginia, leaving many without even basic necessities. With homes demolished and belongings strewn across the countryside, resident survivors were just thankful to be alive. In the wake of the devastation, news coverage made many feel helpless, but for Greg and his wife, Holston Medical Group (HMG) employee, Connie Noe, the overwhelming sense of need was placed on their family’s heart, and they felt called to help.
“We had gone online, just to see what kind of items they needed,” explained Connie Noe. “I had made a rough list of some things and planned to announce it at church on Sunday morning.”
After prayerfully considering the undeniable urge, the Noe family approached their pastor at Oak Glen Baptist Church in Yuma, Virginia, the following day, and the desire began to come together as a plan. Pastor Danny Sykes rallied the congregation, and youth pastor Justin Smith corralled the church youth, which includes the two Noe children, to become involved in what would become the group’s first mission trip.
Without any contacts in the area, Noe called Glade Spring Baptist Church, which just happened to be in the middle of the city, and was connected with Amy Osborne at the church to coordinate the details.
“We just started somewhere. It was just like God had intervened, and it [Glade Spring Baptist Church] was just right where we needed to be,” said Noe.
One of the biggest immediate needs was baby formula. As a registered medical assistant for HMG, Noe knew that her employer would also want to help, and the pediatricians would have formula on hand from their pharmaceutical representatives.
On Monday morning, she shared a list of needed items that was sent out through HMG with a call for help. The goal was to collect supplies through Wednesday so that she could take inventory of what was collected and what was still needed. Responses came from throughout the HMG family.
“Within 10 to 15 minutes, you wouldn’t believe the emails that came through. That’s when it all started,” said Noe. She ended up making numerous trips to collect HMG donations.
“They brought items in to the Healthy U office, and I went out to all of the offices and picked up things,” said Noe. “I have a Honda van, and I had all of the seats laid down.”
In addition to HMG, other church members’ employers including, Reece Brokers, Commercial Bank, Tri-City Christian School, and others, also banded together to donate items. Noe’s husband Greg’s team at Eastman also participated in the effort. At the week’s end, the cooperative effort generated a cattle trailer, two vans, one pickup truck and a sports utility vehicle filled with donations for the Glade Spring community.
Donning blue and orange youth t-shirts, the Oak Glen Baptist youth delivered items and assisted with the massive clean-up effort. Interestingly, they even helped a 13-year-old granddaughter continue the tradition of celebrating her birthday on her grandmother’s farm despite the devastation.
Additionally, HMG declares the first Friday of each month as “Denim Day.” For a suggested contribution of $5, which goes to an established cause, employees can wear jeans to work. On Friday, May 6, 2011, the named cause was the tornado relief effort in Glade Spring, Virginia, and Greeneville, Tennessee. Over $2,000 in monetary assistance was collected from employees, and HMG has matched this amount, bringing the financial contribution total for tornado relief efforts to over $4,000.
“I think that it’s a wonderful thing how everybody has come together to help out,” said Noe. “And, it just says a lot for our community and those who have a caring heart.”