Community Helps Family Struggling with Baby’s Birth Defects
By Lucy Schouten, Church News staff writer
FORT HOOD, TEXAS
He can’t walk or talk yet, but five-month-old McCoy Roberts has brought his family and community together.
Baby McCoy was born in January 2013 at Fort Hood, Texas. His father, A. J. Roberts, and mother, Kendra Roberts, were alarmed to discover that he was born with several rare birth defects. After he was flown to several hospitals, his parents learned they would need to take him to Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, so he could have his first two major surgeries.
Brother Roberts’s parents took their other children, ages three and five, to Utah. Elder L. Mike Smith, a senior missionary assigned to support members on the base, was concerned that during their two-month-long absence, the Roberts family would be fined by the city for their neglected yard.
In the midst of the overgrown bushes, Elder Smith saw a chance to serve. This young military family was struggling, and both he and Bryan Norgaard, a ward member, friend, and fellow soldier, took inventory of the many odd jobs that would make the house a little more welcoming. They decided to make it an opportunity for the community to help.
“My hope was to make it a real community thing, to see the Church in action,” Elder Smith said.
Various groups and people came forward with their particular skills and resources. Dave Ellis of EZ Doors repaired the garage door. The local Lowes and Home Depot donated $1,000 worth of supplies. A ward member offered BELCO construction equipment while neighbors loaned tools to the volunteers. Lee and Kay Harrold, retired soldiers, answered a newspaper ad and brought both supplies and willing hands to the project. A local minister donated 10 gallons of paint and brushes.
“We were able to get most of the community involved,” Elder Smith said.
Twelve elder and sister missionaries, including four from the local Killeen 1st Ward, came to the house for two days to build a playground, paint the porch, do yard work, and deep-clean the house.
Members, missionaries, neighbors, military friends, and community members answered the “call to serve” to welcome this family home. What began as a trial for this baby and his parents became an opportunity to bring a family and a community together through service.