Looking for service opportunities for your church's mission team in 2018? How about "alternative vacation" ideas? Consider serving with UCC Disaster Ministries as hurricane recovery volunteers in Puerto Rico, Texas or Florida.
"Serving at any one of our work sites would mean the world to people struggling to recover months, even years after wind and water robbed them of safe homes," said UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth.
All sites are registering work teams now! Here are details:
Puerto Rico is struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma's and then Maria's destruction of lives and property. Work teams of up to 15 volunteers each may sign up now to help with recovery. Beginning June 2018, groups will serve for one-week periods.
Work may include debris removal, cleaning, tarping, sanitation, light carpentry, roofing, and repair work of homes and/or church properties. Each work group should have two people knowledgeable in home repair and rebuilding. The work will involve being exposed to a hot and humid climate, possible heavy lifting and climbing ladders, often while required to wear safety gear such as eye protection, safety hats, respirators and/or Tyvek protective suits.
Minimum age: 16. Volunteers will be housed in dorms at a church camp and will be using the camp kitchen to prepare meals. The worksites may be up to an hour’s drive away from the camp. The UCC leadership for disaster recovery mission teams will arrive in Puerto Rico soon and will send out more information to registered groups as it comes available.
PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS
In Port Arthur, Texas, UCC Disaster Ministries and the Southeast Texas Community Development Corporation (SETCDC) have joined forces to repair 17 apartments affordable to low-income renters.
Hurricane Harvey last August flooded the units with two feet of water. As a result, the residents - who were already struggling to secure basic needs and services - were displaced, and much of their personal property was destroyed.
The first work team served in February. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting.
VOLUSIA COUNTY (DAYTONA BEACH AREA), FLORIDA
Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sept. 10, 2017, with record-force winds and storm surges, causing extensive damage. Hurricane Matthew had hit the same areas in October 2016. In Volusia County, Fla., dozens of homes were destroyed and hundreds suffered major damage, with more than $600 million in estimated losses.
UCC Disaster Ministries has partnered with VIND (Volusia Interfaith Agencies Networking in Disaster) to repair and rebuild homes. Work includes roofing, gutting interiors, replacing insulation, siding, drywall repair and painting, flooring and other interior work as needed.
Note: An earlier work site, on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, has closed.