New unit enables expanded disaster relief ministry

In one day Texans on Mission volunteers washed 71 loads of laundry for the public in Conroe. (Texans on Mission)


Thanks to the creativity of a Mississippi layman and a gift from California Baptists, Texans on Mission provided an expanded service to Southeast Texas families affected by recent flooding.

Texans on Mission volunteer Susanne Herrington works in the mobile laundry unit in Conroe. (Texans on Mission :Photo)

Not long ago, the California Southern Baptist Convention offered Texans on Mission—formerly Texas Baptist Men—a seldom-used high-capacity mobile laundry unit that needed minor repairs.

After securing the unit in Sacramento and transporting it to Dallas, volunteers began looking for paperwork related to the equipment in it and discovered a business card for Ken Morris.

A Texans on Mission representative called the number on the card, hoping Morris might have some information about the repair and maintenance of the six washing machines and six commercial dryers on the unit.

“He didn’t just know about the equipment. He was the person who designed and built the unit,” said Texans on Mission volunteer Phil Elery of Athens.

Morris had created the laundry unit at his own expense and had maintained the equipment when he lived in California, but he never had the opportunity to serve with it in a disaster. He subsequently had moved to Mississippi.

Texans on Mission volunteer Phil Elery, on-site coordinator for the mobile laundry unit, returns freshly cleaned laundry to a Conroe resident whose home was flooded. (Texans on Mission Photo)

Texans on Mission brought Morris to Dallas, where he familiarized volunteers with the unit, which the organization dedicated in his honor.

When the laundry unit was deployed to West Conroe Baptist Church as part of a flood recovery mission, Texans on Mission not only used it to wash and dry the clothes of volunteers. They also let families affected by the floods know the free laundry service was available to the public.

When volunteer flood-recovery teams worked on homes—removing wet carpet and flooring, damaged drywall and saturated insulation—volunteer chaplains informed homeowners laundry unit volunteers were available to wash and dry flood-soaked clothing and linens.

Sign up for our weekly edition and get all our headlines in your inbox on Thursdays

Three families quickly responded to the offer.

“One pickup truckload had 35 bags of laundry,” Elery said.

The next day, the crew received another 14 bags of laundry.

“We washed and dried 71 loads of laundry,” Elery said. “And it was swamp laundry—with critters in it. It was a full day’s worth of work.”

Texans on Mission volunteers return neatly washed, dried and folded laundry to a Conroe resident whose home was flooded. (Texans on Mission Photo)

In fact, the plastic bags filled with wet laundry had so many roaches in them, the crew had to set off a “bug bomb” fogger overnight to kill them all.

Texans on Mission volunteers washed, dried and folded all the laundry, placing it in clean, dry plastic bags for the families.

Chainsaw crews and mud-out teams often are able to interact with people in the field, Elery noted.

“On the laundry unit, we normally serve in a support role for them,” Elery said. “But by doing public laundry, now we have that opportunity. It’s another opportunity for a personal contact with people in need.”

We seek to connect God’s story and God’s people around the world. To learn more about God’s story, click here.

Send comments and feedback to Eric Black, our editor. For comments to be published, please specify “letter to the editor.” Maximum length for publication is 300 words.

More from Baptist Standard