In many ways, a little Valero store near First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs is as important to the community as any church.
At this time of crisis, the Valero One Stop is almost a place of refuge, night and day, for the people of Sutherland Springs. Sandy Haley sees it from behind the counter.
“Today, everybody’s really just in shock, like they can’t believe that it really happened,” she said.
So the store has remained open through it all, because this is where people in the area have always gathered to chat and catch now. Now, to support each other.
“Right now, it’s a place where everybody’s coming to kind of escape, if they want, outside, come inside, take a minute, take a breather, you know? Stay calm and collected, an island of peace in some chaos right now,” Haley said.
Ethan Campbell lives across the street and doesn’t have to go to the Valero One Stop, but he wants to, to help him stay connected with his neighbors.
“Everybody comes to this story. It’s very important to the community,” he said. “People come here to see each other, to talk to each other, communicate. Keeps people together.”
It’s just a convenience store but now, more than ever, it’s become an important constant in Sutherland Springs.