UM Connection: Paris Wesley Center Mobilizes To Get Water To Clarksville

Loading water onto a trailer

College students deliver 4,472 bottles of water to the Clarksville Food Pantry and McKenzie Memorial UMC

When Paris Wesley campus minister Michelle Stubbs-Wood learned on social media that two area wells failed and the Clarksville ISD schools would be closed because of a water crisis, she immediately reached out to her United Methodist colleagues to find out how the students could help. The Paris Wesley Center then mobilized their community to respond, and within a day they had delivered 4,472 bottles of water to the Clarksville Food Pantry and McKenzie Memorial UMC.

Clarksville is located 30 miles east of Paris.

“When people need water, they need it immediately, so it was important to move as quickly as possible,” Stubbs-Wood said. “In times of emergency, there isn't much time to develop new relationships or networks, so leaning on the ever-present connectional system is key to responding to needs.”

The relationships the Paris Wesley has cultivated over the last several years with First UMC Paris and Connections Paris, Cultiv8 Community and the faculty, staff, alumni and students of Paris Junior College made this all possible. In particular, their relationship with a group of college athletes was a game-changer. The PJC soccer team shopped for the water and loaded it all in a trailer and vehicles to get it to Clarksville.

 “The PJC soccer team benefits from the Wesley Center's weekly free lunch and free laundry, and the coaches had previously said the team would give back whenever we needed it,” Stubbs-Wood said. “We've been cultivating a partnership with the soccer team and we couldn't have pulled off this donation in this time frame without their help.”

Water buying and drop off

Pastor Michael Rowe of McKenzie Memorial UMC expressed gratitude for the Paris Wesley Center’s quick response to the Clarksville water crisis. “We’re grateful for what they did to get water here,” Rowe said.

McKenzie Memorial UMC’s own connections turned into another set of helping hands in the unloading – a local community group was at the church rehearsing a Christmas play when the water arrived, and they helped unload it all.

Rowe recalls, “Then we put it on social media that we had bottled water to give out and by the next morning it was all gone.”

Thankfully, the wells have now been restored. While water instability in the region remains an ongoing challenge, Rowe and his community are grateful for their neighbors across the United Methodist connection who came together to meet their immediate needs for safe drinking water.

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2023