Written by Phyllis Richards
“I have met so many wonderful people that are asking to give of their time and talents, who need a place to work and a place to lay their heads at night,” said Pam Small, a long term disaster recovery volunteer. Pam’s role as registrar and coordinator is to help individuals and groups connect to the places where they want to serve. She has volunteered in this role on and off since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She reports: “Year after year, I run into the same names of groups who want to volunteer. There was one group from Community Church of Sebastopol, California, who signed up for 4-5 different locations. Their group leader and I became friends from afar.”
“In 2013 they signed up to go to Henryville, Indiana, 2 hours from my home. Guess what? My husband John and I made the trip to Henryville, and we actually got to meet all of the wonderful people from California. It was so exciting to finally put a face to the voice on the other end of the phone,” said Ms. Small.
“We spent a day working in Henryville, slinging mud, painting, etc. and couldn’t have been happier. They invited us to stay for dinner, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship. I do believe that is what this job is all about. I actually saw God that day in those faces all the way from California”, Ms. Small said with a smile.
Every time a ‘major’ disaster occurs, the United Church of Christ (UCC) national staff and Conference Disaster Coordinators identify long-term recovery organizations formed to work on rebuilding after the disaster. Organizations provide case management, a local volunteer coordinator, and a local construction coordinator. Local UCC churches (or partner churches) willing to host churches are also identified. They provide space for groups to sleep, kitchen and eating facilities, and a local contact person.
Next, the opportunity is posted on the UCC website at: www.ucc.org/volunteer/disaster-recovery volunteers with a registration form that goes directly to the designated Disaster Recovery Mission Trip Registrar, such as Ms. Small. The designated person coordinates with the Long-term recovery committee, the church housing contact, and the group to set a date of service. The registrar answers questions the groups have along the way.
“We have been able to make mission trips a good experience for the groups while providing excellent and faithful volunteers to the communities rebuilding after the disaster. I have received several good news reports from groups, as feedback” reported the Rev. Dr. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, GSR Team Leader and Executive for UCC Volunteer Ministries. Helping really makes a difference.
Volunteer today as an individual or in a group. Visit our website for more information: www.ucc.org/volunteer/disaster-recovery-volunteer