Written by Phyllis Richards
Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas of Monett, MO. stand happily in of the door of their new home.
Constructed by the volunteer labor of church groups from Missouri and across the Midwest, this new home replaces their original home that was completely destroyed by the tornadoes that swept across Missouri in May of 2003.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Thomas had some insurance and received the maximum amount of money to which they were entitled from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they did not receive enough both to purchase the materials and pay for the labor to rebuild after this disastrous event.
Guided by the Barry and Lawrence County Long Term Recovery Committee, the Thomas' received help from a series of groups who came to the area to help many people with reconstruction projects. The first work of framing and roofing the house was done in March by a group of builders from Peace UCC of Hartsburg, MO. If everything goes according to schedule, Salem UCC of Quincy, ILL will finish the house in late June. In between times, Disciples, Methodists, and Reformed Church groups will have also worked on this home. Arranged through the Missouri Interfaith Disaster Response Organization and the participating denominations, these groups demonstrated conclusively that "people of faith care about their neighbors."
The Thomas' were not alone in loosing nearly everything they had nor were they alone in receiving help from the faith community. Across Missouri, from Canton in the northeast, to Carl Junction in the Southwest, a total of 6,714 homes were destroyed or severely damaged. While most people were able to rebuild with help from insurance, FEMA, and local resources, about ten percent of the families affected had unmet needs. It was at this point that they turned to their neighbors from the faith community for assistance. Many Christian denominations that have disaster response resources to share banded together as the Missouri Interfaith Disaster Response Organization (MIDRO) to make sure that their resources were most effectively and efficiently used. During the spring and summer of 2004, approximately 50 groups with nearly 700 total participants repaired and rebuilt homes and encouraged those who waited so long for a safe, secure, and permanent place to call home.
The United Church of Christ was the first denomination to contribute support to the organizing and coordination effort of the Missouri Interfaith. Thanks to the generous contribution of UCC churches to One Great Hour of Sharing, The Office of National Disaster Ministries of the UCC is able to respond immediately to appeals from local and state interfaith groups for assistance following disaster events.
To find out more about how the faith community works together in disaster response www.ucc.org/disaster.
All gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing are tax deductible and 100% of designated gifts go to the designated area of response. Non-designated funds are encouraged. They allow One Great Hour of Sharing to address future hidden and forgotten emergencies around the world.