Written by Daniel Hazard
One year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded the Gulf Coast, UCC members and churches continue to make significant financial contributions and personal investments into rebuilding efforts. To date, more than $5.6 million has been donated to support the church's redevelopment work, and hundreds of work camps are underway or have been organized.
"The major role of the church in this disaster continues to be the rebuilding and repairing of homes for persons identified with un-met needs, for people who have no insurance or who are under-insured," says Florence Coppola, the UCC's disaster response coordinator.
One hundred percent of UCC donor-directed relief dollars are being used to help those impacted by the disasters, Coppola says, thanks to churches' ongoing basic support for Our Church's Wider Mission, which under girds all operational costs.
A four-page, comprehensive look at the UCC's hurricane response is scheduled for the next issue of United Church News. Meanwhile, here's a partial look at some of the ways your dollars are making a difference:
Through the South Central Conference, the UCC is providing grants to displaced clergy families; purchasing building materials; organizing and sponsoring work camps; and assisting uninsured and underinsured residents.
Through partnerships with Church World Service and community responders, the UCC is supporting long-term recovery throughout the Gulf Coast as well as helping those who evacuated to Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; New York City; St. Louis, Mo.; and elsewhere.
The UCC is funding creation of church-based lodging facilities at Good Shepherd UCC in Metairie, La., and St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans, to accommodate volunteer work camps coming into the region for months and years to come.
The UCC is offering significant support for the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Miss., as it rebuilds and readies itself to aid impoverished residents, both now and in the years ahead. Creating affordable housing opportunities has emerged as a new priority for the UCC-related agency.
The denomination continues to find ways for those affected to tell their stories, such as assisting 25 women impacted by the hurricanes to attend the national UCC/Disciples' women's event in June, where they shared their experiences with those gathered from across the two churches.
The Community of Faith Church of Houston (UCC/Disciples) and its Amistad Resettlement Project is receiving financial help from the UCC to aid 82 evacuated families with resettlement assistance, including job re-training, housing, food, clothing and medical assistance.
The UCC is supporting UCC-related Dillard University in New Orleans with extensive repairs to its campus and restoration of campus life.
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