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Mar 12, 2012 | Denis McGinness

Smithville Times: Faith Village Rises in Bastrop County

The long-term recovery from the devastating Labor Day wildfires in Bastrop County took a giant leap forward last Sunday when Faith Village Volunteer Center was dedicated in Smithville.


The center will provide temporary housing and support for faith-based volunteer groups who are undertaking long-term recovery projects in Bastrop County building houses and restoring devastated habitat.


Work groups of all ages from across the country are responding to requests for assistance after the Labor Day fires took the area by storm, consuming 34,000 acres and more than 1,600 homes with total insured losses reaching $325 million.


The village is headquartered at the old First Baptist Church building on Hudgins Street. The venerable brick and mortar building has accommodations enough to sleep up to 40 volunteers at a time and provide facilities for them to cook, shower and rest after each day’s work.


The Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team has been offering support and participating in the successful launch of the center, according to group’s president Michelle Smith.


“These diverse volunteer groups need a place to rest after their labors, a place where they can get spiritual and emotional recharge and fellowship, as well as a shower and a hot meal,” Smith said at the dedication ceremony.


The village came about through the cooperation of national and local churches and their denominations, each with a hand in making the center possible, including First Baptist Church in Smithville, First Presbyterian Church in Smithville, Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop and First United Methodist Church in Smithville.


Faith Village is a joint effort of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, the United Methodist Church, Southwest Texas Conference and the Presbyterian Church USA, Mission Presbytery.


The volunteer teams will provide their own transportation to and from Bastrop County and will pay a small fee to defray housing and food costs.


Teams are being booked by a central reservation system that was set up by the United Methodist Church, said Eugene Hileman, disaster response coordinator, southwest Texas district.


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