DALLAS—Outside of Fair Park, hundreds of cars queue in line each day to be admitted to the vaccination area. Appointments are required, and 2,000 to 3,000 people are vaccinated each day. Not only are doctors and nurses needed for administering the shots, people are needed for traffic control, crowd control, regular sanitization, registration and more to keep the facility running smoothly and efficiently. Texas Baptist Men (TBM) volunteers are doing their part to help the process by feeding the doctors, nurses and volunteers vaccinating Texans at the Dallas County location.
Rand Jenkins, TBM Ministry Advancement Team director, estimates that about 300 meals are served each day. The TBM volunteer teams are composed of seven members and provide coffee, breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday.
For more than 50 years, TBM has had a strong feeding ministry, travelling to disaster relief zones following natural disasters and other tragedies to bring warm meals to those in need. As TBM looked for ways to serve during COVID-19, they saw providing food to those medical personnel working at Fair Park as a natural extension of that ministry, serving hard workers as they battle a different kind of disaster– a pandemic.
“Our TBM volunteers can help feed people. We do that all over the country, all over the world. So why not here in Dallas County?” Jenkins explained.
The vaccine distribution is a community effort, Christian Grisales, Dallas County Health and Human Services Public Relations officer, explained, and by providing food, TBM is helping the county save lives.
“It’s been a community effort putting this together. We depend a lot on volunteers, like Texas Baptist Men, and we’re very grateful as a county, as a community, for all the work that volunteers have done. It couldn’t really be possible to execute this major operation to get those vaccines to people’s arms, and we cannot be thankful enough for what this organization and other volunteers are doing,” Grisales said.
Pam and Stan George have volunteered with TBM for many years following their retirement and have served on chainsaw and feeding teams after many disasters. Though the vaccination distribution looks very different from their usual ministry locations, Pam explained that the heart and the mission behind TBM’s service remains the same.
“It doesn’t matter who people are or where they come from, we get a chance to love on them,” she said. “We come away so blessed from serving, and we get to meet so many amazing people.”
Volunteers arrive at 6:15 a.m. each morning to set up the coffee and breakfast and encourage people as they begin their days. Lunch arrives at 11:30 a.m. The long shifts for the two meals ensure that everyone at the park can get their meals during their allotted break times.
Laurie, a nurse from Baylor Scott & White, has been working at Fair Park since the vaccinations started. She explained that the meals provided by TBM relieve the doctors, nurses and volunteers of the stress of finding food on their own. Instead, they are able to truly rest on their break.
“It makes all the difference in the world,” she said. “It’s so very appreciated.”
Volunteers can be part of teams of up to seven people Monday-Saturday to meet this urgent need. Shifts last from 6:15 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. No training is required. Texas Baptist churches are encouraged to coordinate volunteer teams to serve. Volunteers can sign up for this opportunity here.
If you have any questions, email TBM Disaster Relief Director David Wells at David.Wells[at]tbmtx.org or call TBM at 214-275-1100.