When People Are in Need, Bigun’s Hope Responds

In the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, three people see a fallen man who’s been beaten and left for dead. Two of them walk to the other side of the road to avoid him.

The third man, however, has compassion on the stranger and stops to help. He treats his wounds, takes him to an inn and pays for his lodging and medical treatment.

Helping the needy person costs the Good Samaritan both time and money. He gets absolutely nothing out of it except perhaps the feeling that he has done something noble and worthwhile.

We don’t have enough Good Samaritans in this world. We have plenty of people who spend their lives benefitting themselves, but too few whose primary goal in life is to help people who need it.

Disaster Relief Is Job One

Fortunately, there still are some Good Samaritans. Two of them are Jason and Hope Lis. They devote significant amounts of time and effort helping the victims of disasters in the Southeast.

They do it through a nonprofit organization called Bigun’s Hope. It began as a family endeavor and has grown due to demand. Jason, also known as Bigun, his wife Hope, and their children have shown compassion for their neighbors and communities.

They’ve also formed relationships and partnerships with businesses, organizations and city, county and state officials across the Southeast.

Their mission is to help the most people in the quickest amount of time, for the greater good of the communities before, during and after a disaster to the best of their ability.

Always Ready to Deploy

“We provide a coordinated effort, including the necessary personnel and equipment, to locate, rescue and provide immediate medical treatment to victims as a result of a natural or manmade disaster,” Jason said. 

“We provide assistance to first responders at their incidents when their capabilities are exceeded.

“Our team members develop and utilize effective technologies to rapidly mobilize to assist municipal, state and federal agencies, and other non-profit organizations when called upon.”

There are no paid positions at Bigun’s Hope. They are all volunteers. And every donation to the organization goes toward helping people in need.

‘It Comes From the Heart’

“We do it because we care,” Hope said. “We’ve lived on these (Texas and Florida) coasts most of our lives so we’ve seen what hurricanes and other natural disasters can do.

“We have the ability and knack to do it. We want to live by ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you.’ We want to make the extra effort to make sure that friends, neighbors and others are taken care of when they need to be.”

Jason said he feels the same way as his wife. “We want to do it. It’s in our hearts. It comes from the heart. No one gets paid.

“We use donor money 100 percent for this. Our only payment is being able to say we could help someone in their time of need.”

Hurricanes Sally, Laura the Latest Crises

Bigun’s Hope has responded to a number of disasters, including the recent Hurricanes Sally and Laura in Louisiana and Texas, the Mussett Bayou Fire in Florida, and tornadoes in Alabama.

They’ve also transported supplies in response to COVID-19, including 600,000 pounds of food into the Florida Panhandle.

One of the vehicles Bigun’s Hope utilizes is a truck that can carry in excess of 10,000 pounds.

“Everything we carry depends on the situation,” Jason said. “It could be food or other supplies, or the equipment we’ll need to deal with a disaster.

“If it’s a tornado, we may go in to help clean up. If it’s a hurricane, it varies, but it might involve water rescues.”

Waiting for the Call

Because Bigun’s Hope has established relationships with local and state governments – as well as other relief agencies – they wait until they are asked to provide help.

“We do not self-deploy,” Jason said. “State or local officials determine whether they want us to be involved, depending on whether they believe they need our resources and expertise.

“Still, sometimes we’re the first ones on the scene. And sometimes we get attached to other groups when we arrive, such as Tennessee Task Force 2 and Oklahoma Task Force 1. We go where we can do the most amount of good.”

Bigun’s Hope uses the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) for its activities.

Experienced Volunteers Are Well-Equipped

Volunteers are a big part of Bigun’s Hope. They are scattered around the Southeast and are quickly contacted by Jason and Hope when help is needed.

Jason said many of their volunteers have a military background. “That’s very helpful because they fully understand the concept of chain of command,” Jason said.

Each volunteer team includes a medical specialist and a communications specialist. They mobilize quickly and are ready to search, rescue and provide immediate medical treatment to disaster victims.

A volunteer’s deployment bag generally includes some 30 items, including work boots, flashlights, helmets, earplugs, work gloves, safety glasses, knee pads, respirator, dust masks, sleeping bag, bug spray, personal hygiene items and more.

Adding the Personal Touch

As important as it is to hand food to people who have just lost their homes, Hope said she is also interested in bringing the personal touch to their efforts.

“The idea I came up with is combining hygiene kits with little goodies such as chips and cookies,” Hope said.

“We took some of the 4Patriots 72-hour food kits and broke them down to include some nutritious food as well.

“I’ve noticed in a disaster that people get handed water and food, and that’s great, but this is something a little extra that people remember. Seeing the looks on their faces confirms that. It makes their day and let’s them know that things are going to get better.”

4Patriots Donates Food, Generator

Anyone interested in becoming a Bigun’s Hope volunteer or making a donation should visit www.bigunshope.org.  

“We’re always looking for volunteers to assist in many ways,” Jason said. “And donations are always appreciated.” 

Recently, 4Patriots donated 100 of its 72-Hour Survival Food Kits and one Patriot Power Generator 1800 to Bigun’s Hope. The food is used to feed volunteers on their missions and to be available for survivors at the volunteers’ discretion.

“We use the generator to run our command trailer when we’re on site,” Jason said. “There’s no noise and no gas smells, and it powers everything we need to run for a setup and to get things operation, like our computers and two-way communications.”

There may not be as many Good Samaritans in the world as there once were. But it’s good to know that organizations such as Bigun’s Hope are standing by and ready to help needy people at a moment’s notice.

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