Written by Carol Fouke-Mpoyo
Attention potential volunteers! South Carolina homeowners still struggling to recover from last fall's devastating storms and floods need your help. Week-long work teams are being recruited now, especially and urgently for September and October.
United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries and its partners in the ecumenical Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) had planned to wrap up their work in South Carolina in August, but are extending it at least through October given flood survivors' yet unmet needs.
"We still have several survivors who can't afford hiring a contractor to repair their homes and are patiently waiting for help," said UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth. "All we need to get these families back into a safe sanitary and secure home is volunteers with a heart to serve."
Work teams are housed at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in West Columbia, S.C., and typically arrive on a Sunday afternoon, work Monday through Friday and depart Saturday morning. Teams help rebuild homes damaged by flooding. Work ranges from basic carpentry to sheetrock, flooring, painting, roofing, insulation and finish molding.
They help people like William H., whose waterlogged home is undergoing extensive rehabilitation by DRSI volunteers.
William marveled that volunteers come for a week at a time "to help someone they didn't even know. I feel blessed that people are taking their time to help me. I could not do this on my own."
He said he is grateful that he and his family are able to stay in the home during reconstruction. Graciously, he only hinted at the frustration when, at one point, work stopped for three weeks for lack of volunteers. It is not easy to live in a construction zone, constantly fighting dust, William said.
Wolgemuth urged potential disaster recovery volunteers not to underestimate the contribution they can make, commenting, "There is great healing emotionally, spirituality and physically when a survivor is supported by loving strangers willing to selflessly give their time to help rebuild a home.
"The positive impact of having a stable living condition is amazing," Wolgemuth said. "Stable living conditions allow families to focus on education, health, work and other important elements of their lives. These are basic human needs and rights. What better place for the United Church of Christ than to stand in the gap and proclaim our love for the child, the widow, the orphan and the disenfranchised?"
The DRSI is a joint on-the-ground program of the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries in partnership with the disaster ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Church of the Brethren. In South Carolina, major funders include the Central Carolina Community Foundation's One SC Flood Relief Grant and the United Ways of the Midlands.
UCC Disaster Ministries also has several other projects that need volunteers. Click here for information.
Support UCC disaster recovery work in the United States through the Emergency USA Fund.
Pictured: UCC and DRSI volunteers at work in South Carolina.