Overcoming Poverty: 1 year in, Selma church’s tornado relief effort a full-blown community outreach

By Rosanna Smith
Published: Jan. 9, 2024 at 10:06 PM EST | Updated: Jan. 9, 2024 at 11:30 PM EST

SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) – It’s been nearly a year since an EF-2 tornado hit Selma, and one church has been at the forefront of storm relief efforts ever since.

The congregation remains focused on meeting the needs of its community.

“The traumatic experience that our local residents and families went through, but also the hope that we have for what the future brings,” explains Danielle Wooten, the outreach ministries coordinator at Gospel Tabernacle Church.

This is what comes to mind for Wooten as she reflects back on Jan. 12. Just days after the tornado hit, the church set up a storm relief center and launched the “Hope Hot Line” for neighbors to call in for help of any kind.

“We really just had to ramp up, and we were really just be on boots on the ground, going in the neighborhoods, preparing food and delivering food to families, being out there knocking on doors, seeing what assistance we could be,” Wooten explains.

This congregation took a hands on approach in the recovery efforts. They distributed hygiene items, put displaced families in hotels, and made repairs to damaged homes.

“And so it’s just been rewarding…just being able to be a safe place, a refuge a place for resource,” Wooten adds.

And now they are working to continue to meet the needs.

With the homeless shelter on Selma’s Broad Street open from 7 p.m. to 7a.m., the church is able to provide beds for up to 20 men and women who don’t have a place to call home.

“It’s just one, letting them know that someone cares,” Wooten says, “and letting them know that you have a place.”

As for what the future holds, Wooten says as they expand they want to be able to make an even larger impact.

“You know, connect them with Cahaba Mental Health, if that’s a resource that’s needed, connect them to rural health medical program, if you need medical assistance, connect them to workforce programs, a GED programs to wireless community college.”

If you would like to volunteer, contact Gospel Tabernacle at (334) 872-0888. If you would like to donate, they have set up an Amazon gift list.