OKOLONA – When Beverly and Chris Shatley set out to find a new home, they did not even know Okolona existed, however, a twist of fate landed them there. After just over two months here, they have connected with the community, a connection that they are using to help those in need.
They are collecting supplies for those affected by Hurricane Ida. Specifically, they will be delivering supplies to Hammond and Independence, LA.
“That's always been in my heart,” said Beverly when asked how they decided to collect the supplies. “As a traveling pipeline wife, and we have traveled around the United States with other pipeline wives and families, every time we have been in an area, there's always been a need, and so we've always gotten together and reached out, [using] not only our own money, but people have gathered up things during floods, during tornadoes, during hurricanes, during school openings and things like that, and we have pulled together and we have done big drives for them and been able to give back to the communities no matter where we've worked at in the United States. It's always been on my heart to help others. We have to come together and help others, we have to rely on each other.”
As mentioned, it was a twist of fate that landed the Shatleys in Chickasaw County, however, they are sure this is where they are supposed to be.
“We had no idea it was going to be Chickasaw County,” said Beverly. “We sold our home in November, and we were with my husband on the pipeline in Minnesota, and we kept looking and looking, and we had several homes that just fell through due to inspections and stuff like that. We brought our stuff because we had found a home over in Albertville, AL, my husband took a little time off and we went and got our stuff from Missouri, took it all the way there, went to go close and everything fell through at that moment, so we were sitting in a Walmart parking lot not knowing what to do with our movers, not knowing what to do with our family. We had two vehicles at the time and a moving truck, so we turned around, put everything in storage in Alabama, went back to the hotel and my daughter, Elizabeth Shatley, actually found this place. So, we called the next morning and came over and looked, and as soon as we pulled up, it was like, 'this is it, this is where we're supposed to be.'”
They are collecting a variety of supplies, with the most sought after products being bottled water, tarps and cleaning supplies, however, since they are a stable, they said it would be remiss to neglect the animals as well, so they are also collecting horse feed and such.
They have already received a pallet full of horse feed and one of Alfalfa Hay as well.
“I am starting off with water, definitely tarps, shovels, buckets, mops, I just found out that there was a need for roofing nails. We are actually taking up pet collections and because we are a stable, it is really on our heart to give horse feed as well, which somebody donated a large amount of horse feed and some alfalfa hay. There's a need for masks because of COVID, definitely hand sanitizer. I'm thinking about hand washing soap and also laundry soap.”
Beverly spoke to a friend that she had in the affected area, and the new was not great.
“They have lost everything. I spoke with her on Sunday and then again on Monday morning, and I said what can I do, and she said 'first you can pray, which we were already doing that, and second of all, do what we've always done. Pull together the community, there is a need, and I know people are wanting to rush in right now, but it is not a time for us to rush in. The people that are there for the rescue and the things like that are the ones that need to be there right now, the power companies, the linemen and the Red Cross and whatever churches and foundations that are large that go into disasters are there. We're going to wait a few weeks before we go, that way people can get back to at least see what their needs are as well.”
The areas that the Shatleys will be delivering to is actually one of the hardest hit as well.
“The area that we are going to be delivering to, their homes are gone, so they're going to have to go in and gut them. SO, bleach is needed and rubber gloves, and masks, not only for COVID, but also due to the chemicals and the mold. However, anything that is laid on any person's heart to bring, we will take.”
There is no exact time line of when they plan to make their delivery, they are waiting for the right time when all of the rescue work is done and people start returning to their homes, that way the supplies don't get lost in relocation and things like that as well.
Shatley also wanted to thank the community and her family for coming together to support the drive as well. She said that without them, none of this would be possible.
“My husband has been a huge help, with my son and daughter as well, I definitely wanted to let everybody know that I am not doing this alone and that it is a family effort here at Healing Grace Stables, and that everyone has pulled together to make this happen.”
There is a GoFundMe set up where people who are not local or want to give money can do so, and it can be accessed via their Facebook page, however, they are asking that all who are able to buy the supplies do so, because they are starting to be bought up and so they can't use the money to purchase them if they aren't available.
However, all donations of any kind are welcome.
Donations can be dropped off at Healing Grace Stables, 403 Hawkins Street, Okolona, MS, from 9 a.m-6 p.m.
Donations can also be dropped off at City Hall in Okolona.