West, Texas is less than half an hour from the Texas Farm Bureau headquarters in Waco. We watched with horror the news accounts of the April 17 explosion and grieved at the deaths of 15 gallant first responders.
Not too many decades ago, farm communities were isolated and very much dependent on each other. There were group activities like building homes and barns or sharing equipment and labor. Today, farmers are more business-oriented and advanced communication has shrunk the world for everyone. However, you only have to see one disaster in a small farming community like West to see the embers of the agriculture community spirit burst into a burning passion to help.
Calls from county Farm Bureau offices and members were immediate. All of them wanted to help. The TFB Research and Education Foundation began receiving donations. Now, three months later, some of the needs are clearer. The TFB board of directors added funds to enrich the gifts made by members across the state.
In July, TFB President Kenneth Dierschke presented a check for $125,000 to outfit new ambulances for West EMS. He also handed a check for $48,100 to West Mayor Tommy Muska to help rebuild a community park that will be known as “First Responders Park.”
The Farm Bureau contribution was part of a total boosted by much generosity from other groups and individuals. Many small farming towns across the state look a lot like West, and they asked, “What if it happened here?” West forced all of us to think about the unthinkable. I believe Texans answered the call and did the right thing.