To Complete Its
Final Two Cases By
End Of The Month
BY KEN LITTLE
AIDNET of Greene County will continue on, but not in the same form that assisted hundreds of survivors of the tornadoes that tore through Greene County on April 27-28, 2011.
Changes in AIDNET's organizational structure were discussed Tuesday at the group's second-to-last semi-monthly meeting at First Baptist Church in Greeneville.
After July 31, executive committee members will hold quarterly meetings and remain in readiness to respond to future disasters in Greene County.
But much of the discussion at Tuesday's meeting was about the accomplishments made possible by AIDNET members and the hundreds of people who volunteered their time and their financial and in-kind contributions.
More than 100 cases of tornado survivors in need have been closed since AIDNET was reactivated in June 2011. Only two remain open, and it is hoped they can also be closed out by the final semi-monthly meeting on July 31, organization President Jim Ramey said.
"We will go to quarterly meetings," he said. "AIDNET is not going away. If and when there is another disaster, we will not have to wait a month, and we will spring into action and pick up where we left off."
AIDNET was reactivated last year under the auspices of the Greeneville-Greene County Ministerial Association.
As part of the reorganization connected with AIDNET's long-term future, the group applied for and received non-profit status. It also incorporated with the state, Secretary Wendy Peay said.
"We are an organization that stands alone, and this has allowed us to move forward," she said.
The Ministerial Association helped AIDNET "from the beginning," said Wayne Bettis, the organization's publicity coordinator.
"It's pretty neat. We have our own [non-profit] corporation now, but we want this to continue on," he said.
"We are shutting this particular disaster down. We have met as much need as we could with it, as far as this disaster is concerned."
AIDNET has spent nearly all its funds to close out remaining cases.
Directors allocated $5,500 Tuesday to each of the remaining cases in an effort to close them out by July 31. Volunteers are working at both sites.
Reorganization will help AIDNET be ready for the future, even though no one looks forward to an event on par with the 2011 tornado outbreak, which is considered the worst natural disaster in Greene County history.
"We're going to shut this disaster down and prepare for the next disaster," Bettis said.
Jan Leffers, AIDNET treasurer, said the organization was able to accomplish a great deal.
"Over the course of the last 14 months there are the ups and downs we will always remember," Leffers said.
"It's been a remarkable effort. It's been life-affirming and life-changing, and it continues to reassert the power of God. You can see His hands in everything that has been done."
More than 20 people attended Tuesday's meeting, an indication of the ongoing commitment made by members of the community to seeing the relief effort through.
"You guys have been fantastic servants. You have given your time, your effort, your finances and have put gas in your vehicles," Ramey said.
"I appreciate you taking an outsider and letting him come inside and serve you."
Ramey, who is active in the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization, is a Sullivan County resident.
He became involved in the tornado relief effort in Greene County immediately after it occurred, and used his experience to help guide AIDNET through some challenging months.
"When Jim came into this, he became part of our family here, and I never perceived anything else other than him being part of the family," Bettis said.
Ramey provided input valuable to the relief effort at a time when many Greene County residents had suffered devastating losses.
"We're thankful that Jim was here. He gave us an outside perspective of what was going on. We had a lot of emotion going on," Bettis said.
"I just believe this whole thing came together for a reason, and Jim was the right person at the right time."