As rescuers in California urgently search for more missing people in the deadly mudslides that devastated the Montecito community, a United Church of Christ minister is pastoring to the stricken and the injured.
The Rev. Kris Bergstrom, pastor of Church of the Foothills in Ventura, Calif., also serves as a part-time chaplain at the local hospital in Montecito.
"I was the village school principal in Montecito for 8 years more than a decade ago, so I consider all the people involved in the Montecito crisis my family," she said. "I have close ties with so many families."
Thomas and Enge, along with another friend from Shepherd of the Hills, decided to join the church in sponsoring and welcoming a refugee family to the Arcadia neighborhood. Since the family’s arrival, the ladies have helped them grow and blossom into their new lives.
Thomas works as the baby bed coordinator for Carry the Future, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for infants in Europe and the Middle East. Since its inception two years ago, 50,000 baby carriers and 600 baby beds have been donated to refugees.
Knowing the refugees who arrive in America need a great deal of support, Thomas decided to pair up with Enge, as well as Welcome to America and Refugee Focus, to bring another family to Phoenix.
The ladies were matched up with a family from Afghanistan that included a single mom and her four children. They had been living in Pakistan for five years and had survived the tragic accident of losing their father and husband.