By MADOLINE MARKHAM
A task force has chosen to focus city-wide tornado relief efforts on Pleasant Grove, whose high school mascot is also a Spartan. This formal Spartans Helping Spartans effort will build on grassroots efforts initiated throughout Mountain Brook.
After sending crews to the area two days after the tornado, Mountain Brook Baptist Church has partnered with Bethel Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove. Mountain Brook Baptist is collecting donations in their gym indefinitely. The only item not recommended for donation is clothing. Other Mountain Brook churches have sent donations and work crews to this area along with others including Cullman, Pratt City, Hayden and Concord.
The Emmet O’Neal Library has also worked closely to help Pleasant Grove through its library. ”I don’t operate a chainsaw, but I can shelve books” Emmet O’Neal Library Director Sue DeBrecht said. “We are glad to do what we can and give their staff some relief.”
The week after the tornado, DeBrecht called Pleasant Grove librarian and friend Donna Sartain to see what they could do to help. Sartain said that with all the people coming in to use Internet to communicate with friends and family and file insurance claims, the library did not have enough computers to go around.
DeBrecht enlisted the help of library IT Manager Marylyn Eubank, who worked with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative to move six properly configured computers to Pleasant Grove, giving the library 11 total computers. While she was on site, Eubank worked to troubleshoot the library’s wireless Internet to get it up and running again.
Sartain also shared with DeBrecht that a woman who had coordinated staffing the small library on Saturday mornings had lost her life in the storms. Seeing the need, DeBretch volunteered to staff the library some Saturdays and organized other Jefferson County librarians to do so through the end of June.
DeBrecht and the Emmet O’Neal Library staff are also planning story times for the Pleasant Grove Library for July.
Representatives from the City and City Council, Mountain Brook Chamber, Mountain Brook School System, PTO and the Emmet O’Neal Library are all part of the task force that initiated the formal city-wide effort for Spartans Helping Spartans.
“We wanted to pick something that will be lasting and will make an impact,” Mayor Terry Oden said. Oden, who also serves as the chairman of Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, had been in contact with mayors and city councils affected by the storms throughout Jefferson County. The task force focused on choosing an area in Jefferson County and ultimately unanimously decided on Pleasant Grove, a municipality independent of Birmingham that has limited resources.
As of the end of May, Pleasant Grove Mayor Jerry Brasseale was identifying specific areas where Mayor Oden and the city can mobilize Mountain Brook to assist with long-term relief and rebuilding.
The Chamber of Commerce is working with merchants to raise money and support as a part of the unified relief effort.
For more information on Spartans Helping Spartans, visit www.welcometom
ountainbrook.com. The Chamber website also has a list of merchants collecting donations.