Final 2 Cases
Board To Meet
BY KEN LITTLE
AIDNET of Greene County's board of directors held their final semi-monthly meeting on Tuesday, quietly "closing the books" on the volunteer organization's response to the deadly series of tornadoes that tore through the region on April 27-28, 2011.
Hundreds of families and individuals living in tornado-damaged communities such as Camp Creek, Horse Creek, Ducktown and the South Central area bordering Washington County benefited from AIDNET-coordinated projects that provided new housing, renovated homes and carried out other repairs.
Jim Ramey, AIDNET president, said directors will continue to meet quarterly to keep the organization intact and ready to respond in the event of future need.
"We have pointed to this day for some time," Ramey said. "This is the day that we have arrived at where we feel that AIDNET will have quarterly meetings.
"AIDNET is not going away, but this is the time that we close the books on the disaster."
FORMED IN 2001
AIDNET's origins date to 2001, when the organization formed in response to disastrous flooding that damaged property in sections of Greene County and nearby areas.
By the time of the April 2011 tornadoes, which killed seven people in Greene County and left hundreds homeless, AIDNET had become dormant. The first meeting was not held until early June 2011, about six weeks after the tornadoes struck.
Current directors believe it's important to keep the AIDNET structure intact.
"We are not hibernating. We are just going to quarterly meetings," Ramey said.
The first such meeting is scheduled for Oct. 23. It will also serve as the group's annual reorganization meeting.
Ramey, a Sullivan County resident who is active in the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization, said he anticipates staying on as AIDNET president.
"Our board is going to stay intact for now. At our annual meeting, we will discuss our rotation," he said.
The accomplishments made possible by AIDNET volunteers, caseworkers and donors speak loud and clear through statistics compiled by Wendy Peay, group secretary.
AIDNET of Greene County received 112 applications for assistance. Of that total:
* 41 cases received materials and/or volunteer labor through AIDNET;
* 29 cases were resolved without AIDNET help (other agencies and churches assisted);
* 19 cases received volunteer help involving cleanup only;
* 19 cases were ineligible for AIDNET assistance (including renters, people living in travel trailers or those who wanted help with medical bills and other bills who were not eligible for AIDNET assistance).
* Four cases needed barn or shed repair only. Early on, AIDNET directors determined resources would be best used by focusing on housing.
Taking volunteer hours and donated goods into account, AIDNET Treasurer Jan Leffers recently estimated the value of the work coordinated by AIDNET in Greene County at between $750,000 and $1 million.
AIDNET, which set a January deadline on applications for assistance, closed out its two remaining open cases Tuesday.
Most of the remaining money in AIDNET's account is already allocated to other rebuilding projects, Peay said.
'SEED MONEY' IN PLACE
Ramey said the plan is to have some money left in AIDNET's bank account to keep the organization active, in the event a quick response is required for a future disaster.
Peay said that amount could range between $10,000 and $20,000.
"We want to have enough money left over in the budget to take care of our insurance (and other expenses). I call it seed money," Ramey said.
"If something ever happens again, it would be nice to hit the ground running."
AIDNET will continue as a stand-alone charitable organization chartered with the State of Tennessee, rather than as an affiliate of the Greeneville-Greene County Ministerial Association.
All money donated to assist tornado survivors went exclusively toward that purpose, Ramey said.
Other funds were donated specifically for administrative and operating expenses.
"As far as the individuals on the board, no one received any money from AIDNET," Ramey said.
Since AIDNET reactivated over a year ago, whenever a particular need for funds or materials arose, that need was always met, Ramey said.
"It seemed like people stepped up and took care of us," he said.
Others also took notice.
"It's amazing to see what has been done in a year's time," said Shirley Fillers, who organized a series of successful "countywide" yard and bake sales this spring at the former Ross Furniture & Bedding store.
The sales raised over $20,000 for AIDNET-coordinated projects.
Ramey urged AIDNET members to visit the Volunteer Center of Greeneville/Greene County, at 615 West Main St., and look over the scrapbook and other archival materials collected by organization Historian Jo Knabel.
"We encourage everyone to look at it," he said.
Ramey offered a special thanks to the First Baptist Church of Greeneville for hosting AIDNET meetings since the group reactivated.
"I really enjoyed working with you all. It's not been work," he said. "I guess I've become a Greene Countian."