Yazoo rises to the challenge

By JASON PATTERSON,

During an early planning meeting for Flood Aid 2019 Van Ray was asked to set a fundraising goal.

As the director of the local disaster relief committee and president of the Bank of Yazoo City, Ray was the right guy to ask.

He didn’t hesitate to answer.

$50,000.

That’s a lot of money, but the group of folks sitting around the table didn’t question it.

All of us have seen what happens in this community when our neighbors are in need.

But even if you’ve seen it before, it’s still something incredible to behold. Somehow it seems to get better every time.

That was certainly the case Saturday when the quiet community of Satartia probably attracted its largest crowd of all time.

The volunteers alone outnumbered Satartia’s population. It was impossible to keep up with how many people came out to show their support.

At the end of the day, Flood Aid more than doubled that $50,000 fundraising goal.

That’s something that can only happen through faith and a lot of love.

When Irma Newell Hart first shared his vision for holding a big fundraising event on old Satartia Gin property I was almost surprised to hear myself supporting it. I’ve helped organize quite a few events over the years, and it takes much more time for planning and organization to achieve success. This event had to happen quickly because people are in need.

Hart called on a small group who would each take tasks and run with them. Because of the limited time, and because everyone involved were pretty busy with their normal responsibilities to begin with, there wasn’t the kind of detailed planning and discussion that would normally be required of an event of this magnitude.

The initial group was perfect.

Rev. Ken Lynch didn’t hesitate to get involved. That meant that Parkview was behind the effort, and that’s like mobilizing an army. Other churches also quickly made major commitments. First Methodist and First Baptist organized groups to cook the food. Simmons Catfish donated fish.

Rev. Royce Lott, pastor of the Baptist church in Satartia, jumped in headfirst. Brother Royce seems to have unlimited energy when he gets behind a cause. He even called on former wrestling legend Ted Dibiase, who now runs a ministry, to shoot a video promoting the event. That gave the event a huge boost in publicity.

Martin McGraw offered his experience from years of hosting the Yazoo County Fair.

Colon Johnston shared his experience planning festivals and used his contacts established through a long career in radio to help promote the event.

Kay Mills lived up to her reputation of always being the person who is the most organized and willing to do anything needed.

That small group of organizers grew into a tremendous amount of people coming together for a common cause. I wouldn’t dare try to name everyone who made major contributions.

Maybe I could name them all if I tried, but it wouldn’t matter to them. All I ever heard from anyone involved was that they wanted to give the glory to God.

And when it comes down to it, that’s the reason Flood Aid was so successful, and that’s the reason that Yazoo folks never fail to rise to the challenge when our neighbors are in need.

God is love.

It’s spelled out pretty clearly. Love your neighbors like you love yourself. Even love your enemies (that’s often hard for me too).

God is alive and well in Yazoo County, and Flood Fest was a wonderful reminder of how love can overcome anything – even something as terrible as this flood.