Rev. Josh Baird, Director of Disciples Volunteering, brings us this good news.
Beginning in the fall of 2005, Disciples began developing a system and structure for supporting long-term disaster recovery directed by local leadership within communities affected by disaster. In collaboration with Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering has engaged Regional/Area partners and local congregations as well as a growing list of faith-based and community service organizations and government agencies. These partnerships have enabled more than 14,500 volunteers to serve through 25 congregationally based mission stations, contributing $11 million in labor to devastated communities and performing the work equivalent to the rebuilding of 200 homes.
Recovery from a major disaster takes many partners, each contributing of their experience and resources, to help communities restore themselves to a "new normal" - an overall sense of safety and stability that were fundamentally shaken by the disaster. For more than forty years, organizations that respond nationally have coordinated and collaborated through National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD). Two weeks ago, National VOAD accepted the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) along with the International Orthodox Christian Charities as its newest members. With more than 100 member organizations, National VOAD builds resiliency in communities by serving "as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle - preparation, response, recovery and mitigation - to help disaster survivors and their communities." As members, Disciples are now positioned to better respond to large natural disasters and to contribute to the national conversation about the purpose and role of non-profits following disaster. This is great - and it is only a first step. Much of the ground work for disaster recovery - and even more so for disaster preparedness - happens at the level of state VOADs or even county/community based VOADs. Disciples Volunteering is now calling on Regions/Areas to join their state VOADs and congregations to become active within their local VOAD networks.
Extending our participation to state and local VOAD networks will enable Disciples to respond to smaller scale disasters - the kind where neighbors are typically able to help each other complete a recovery on their own. This will also position Disciples to be pro-active, engaging in the work of disaster preparedness and mitigation. This can sound daunting, but it's really as simple as building relationships with your neighbors and with other service organizations within your own community. If you, your congregation, or Region/Area is already involved in state or local efforts, or if you are interested in learning more, please let us know. In partnership with Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering continues to coordinate long-term recovery efforts to major disasters; instead of waiting for the next "big one" to strike, let's work together to build networks of support and resiliency with our neighbors today. Together, Disciples will offer hope, healing, and a helping hand.
What is a COAD and Why Does Your Community Need One?
The next Church World Service U.S. emergency response webinar - "What is a COAD and why does your community need one?" - will be held on November 18, 2014, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. The webinar will be presented by CWS Emergency Response Specialist Susanne Gilmore. * Hint: "COAD" stands for Community Organizations Active in Disaster. COADs put in place the partnerships and relationships needed so that you and your community can respond effectively when disaster strikes.
Click here to register.
This Week's Responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Missouri, Fire Relief