Sunday, September 17
With the two recent powerful hurricanes and all the damage they’ve brought, I have been offering you information on efficient and trustworthy ways you may want to give to help with short- and long-term flood relief. I strongly recommend that you give through United Church of Christ Disaster Relief Ministries. Gifts may be made online, through this link:
You may also contribute through our Bethel offering plate, if you mark your gift “for hurricane relief.” We would forward any such gifts through our Central Atlantic Conference office.
Your gifts will go to support the relief and recovery efforts of international partners to meet the unique needs of vulnerable individuals and families in the United States. In the United States, UCC Disaster Ministries fills gaps in services through the following provisions:
† Spiritual care
† Community organizing
† Repair and reconstruction of homes
† Building materials
† Volunteer coordination
UCC Disaster Relief states, “In this emergency phase of this disaster, cash is the best way to help survivors. … DON'T add stress [to the disaster response scene] by sending unsolicited clothing or other goods, or showing up uninvited to volunteer.”
Here is something that will be sorely needed in the flood zones: Church World Service Emergency Cleanup Buckets, “which are in very short supply: only 1,800 in stock; 8,000 were distributed after Hurricane Matthew.” We have been announcing the need for these flood cleanup buckets, each of which is filled with a specific list of valuable supplies. We will gladly share with you the specifications to assemble an emergency flood cleanup bucket. We would ship it to where it can be used to do the most good.
But perhaps you are itching to get more closely involved with flood relief efforts. Well, here are two volunteer opportunities that are currently organized and ready for you to sign up. Please note, though: these are in response to PAST flooding events— because the restoration efforts take a long time; they don’t just get fixed quickly and go away !
Volusia County, Florida: Matthew Recovery
UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with VIND (Volusia Interfaiths / Agencies Networking in Disasters) to assist Daytona Beach area households damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 to repair/rebuild homes, e.g., roofing, gutting interiors, replacing insulation, siding, drywall repair and painting, flooring and other interior work as needed. [If you get involved in this effort, you will definitely also see and address needs related to this year’s Hurricane Irma.]
Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Flood Recovery
UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Fuller Center For Housing in Louisiana to help residents return home following historic and catastrophic flooding in August of 2016. Thousands of residents still live in temporary housing struggling to rebuild their lives. Volunteers are needed to repair and rebuild homes. [If you go to help with this effort, you will no doubt also be helping respond to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.]
If you would like more information about taking part in either of these volunteer opportunities, you can follow links on http://www.ucc.org/disaster
or see me, and I will connect you.
All of that being said about the latest flooding events, we must realize that long-term needs don’t go away during hurricane season. God knows, they continue to cry out in the shadow of the daily headlines.
On October 1, we will observe World Communion Sunday. Our custom on that day has been to receive the annual Neighbors in Need (NIN) Special Mission Offering. This year, the theme for NIN is “Protect the Sacred: In a Just World, Clean Water is Life.” NIN is a special mission offering of the UCC that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of the offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Stay tuned !