A Fair Trade Pilgrimage

Ercilio, our host, showed us his son's wedding picture.  It had been years since he had seen his son, who had made his way from their small farm in the Dominican Republic to Germany where he worked as a mechanic. Ercilio hadn't met his daughter-in-law, but he had this picture. 

He held it to his chest. 

Mi Corazon, he said, and looked up to the stars. Ramon Antonio Mosquea, a CONACADO farmer, breaks open a Cacao pod (Photo by Ashley Cheuk, Equal Exchange)

I came to be Ercilio's houseguest as a part of a delegation visiting the National Confederation of Dominican Cacao Producers (CONACADO), a co-op of 8,000 small-scale organic cacao farmers in the Dominican Republic. CONACADO is a pioneer in organic and Fair Trade cocoa, and the World's leading exporter of certified organic cocoa. Equal Exchange, Week of Compassion's Fair Trade partner, has worked with this farmer organization for 11 years.

One of the goals for this trip, and others Equal Exchange has led over the years, is to help the US public see and appreciate the hard work, skill, investment and years of perseverance that are required to produce top-quality organic cocoa. Another goal is to allow the delegates to see first-hand the benefits of the farmers' co-operative business model, and those of Equal Exchange's Fair Trade practices. Equal Exchange introduced the Fair Trade food and beverage concept to the US in the 1980's and sources approximately 99% of its imports from small-farmer co-operatives. 

The visit took us not only through the technical aspects of cocoa production, which included helping harvest cacao pods, learning about the fermentation and drying process, and visiting CONACADO's top-notch production facility, but it also took us into the lives of the families whose farms produce the raw material that makes its way into the Fair Trade chocolate that is served by many of our Disciples congregations.  We spent time in meeting with farmer associations, listening to their hopes, aspirations, and concerns, as well as enjoying the generosity and hospitality they offered as they opened their homes to us.  And no one was more hospitable than Ercilio.

WoC Associate Director, Brandon Gilvin, tries his hand at harvesting Cacao (Photo by Ashley Cheuk, Equal Exchange)

Ercilio showed us around his farm, letting us taste raw almonds, fresh fruit, and of course, cacao. We shared both rich, spicy homemade drinking chocolate and an Equal Exchange chocolate bar made with cocoa that originated from CONACADO farms, and we asked and answered one another's questions -How much does a plane ticket to the United States cost?  How long ago did your wife and sons migrate to look for work?What do you think of the Boston Red Sox? How much do people pay in the United States for a chocolate bar like this?

Our conversations with Ercilio, whether over breakfast or a late night game of dominos, reminded us of just how central relationships are to the fair trade model; how aspiration, security, migration, and the value of family intersect messily in the lives of farming families; and why human dignity and investment in an entire community are essential parts of a just economic exchange. 

By working through co-ops like CONACADO and offering Fair Trade Premiums, Equal Exchange's Fair Trade model not only provides  individual farmers with a fair price for their labor and product, but economic empowerment.  As we spent time together, CONACADO farmers told us that before the belonged to the co-op, they were often at the mercy of cacao brokers.  They sold their cacao at the price the brokers quoted.  Now, they told us, they were aware of the market price, and by working together as a co-op, they had more leverage, more opportunity, and dignity.

We toured a computer lab in a local community center, and visited a community water project, both of which resulted from the investment of Fair Trade premiums managed by the Co-op and its local associations.  Farmers told us that the education of their children was more easily affordable and that there are new jobs that flow from the successes of the co-op and farmers.  Younger people do not have to leave the community as often when seeking certain kinds of education or training. In turn, more of them are staying in the community. And that means there is a greater skill based residing in the community. Less often do people, or businesses like the co-op, need to go outside the community to hire, or contract, for certain kinds of skilled work.  The impoverishing, vicious downward spiral of de-population had reversed itself-an incredible achievement.

As I've reflected on this trip since returning to the states, my thoughts have turned repeatedly to Ercilio and his family. What can fair trade mean to a family?  Earning a livelihood, sure, but it can also make migration more of a choice than necessity for future generations.  It can mean the slowing-or even the virtual end-of a community's "brain drain" as the best and brightest are able to benefit from a thriving organic, fair trade farming operation.  I can't think of a better way to put our Compassion into Action than supporting this sort of work.  It gives us a real opportunity to make purchases that express our values as people of faith, building partnerships that  give a farmer like Ercilio the opportunity to hold his children-his heart-much closer in the future.

--Brandon 

You are Inspiring!

If you have participated in the Disciples Coffee Project you have invested in the lives of farmers like those who are members of CONACADO, and your purchases have also helped to support food security and other projects supported by Week of Compassion.  Your purchase has counted twice!

 

Cacao Pods and Equal Exchange Bars (Photo by: Ashley Cheuk, Equal Exchange)

 

Over 10,000 congregations, schools, and groups use our products every year, and each one has a story to tell about how they learned about Fair Trade, got their program started, and found support in their community. Now, Equal Exchange has a new web page to broadcast those stories far and wide! Get inspired atwww.equalexchange.coop/programs/customer-stories.

Do you have a story to tell about your experience with Equal Exchange? Email your story to jrazsa@equalexchange.coop. 

This week's responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Texas, Emergency Grant
Illinois, Tornado Damage (5)
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Guatemala, Human Rights Education
Mexico, Job Training for Persons Living with HIV and AIDS
Mexico, Water for Life
Paraguay, Economic Development Initiative for Women
Democratic Republic of Congo, Water for Life
Democratic Republic of Congo, Medical Supplies
Hungary, Refugee Community Center
Egypt, Human Security and Youth Empowerment
Afghanistan, Orthopedic Workshop and Physical Therapy Center
Bangladesh, Community Development (2)
Vietnam, Cleaner Villages
Serbia, Inclusive Roma Education
Republic of Georgia, Tblilsi Youth House
Pakistan, Peace Education
Kenya, Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation
Uganda, Safe School Zone
Tanzania, Cervical Cancer Prevention

Grateful

The tiny table in the middle of the one-roomed house was piled high with as much as it would hold and then some-plastic plates were stacked upon other plates so that everyone gathered around that one and only table would have something to eat.  In one of the most remote villages in Kenya, where drought and famine had claimed the lives of not only animals and crops but also people, Week of Compassion was welcomed.  There was a special seat at that table just for us.  The only chicken the family had eaten in weeks if not months was offered to me as guest.  In the midst of not having enough, somehow they seemed to make something out of virtually nothing.  

After the ritual hand-washing with a bar of soap passed around and precious water poured over your hands by the female hostess, the rest of the family was instructed to lead us in prayer.  I joined them as they prayed for the gifts of the earth and for all the blessings bestowed upon us as a human family, a Christian family, and a Kenyan family.

Their prayers weren’t especially original or moving in and of themselves.  What moved me, rather, was the attitude in which they offered those prayers.  Never before had I witnessed such an attitude of gratitude.  

There were no words wondering where the next chicken or meat would come from.  No pleas for more plantains or avocadoes.  Nothing mentioned about having more clean water.  Instead of praying for what they did not have, they gave God thanks for what they did have.  

And they meant it.  

I have been around many Week of Compassion tables in the last number of years.  Some are quite tangible, such as this tiny table in a remote village in drought-stricken Kenya.  Others are the tables that we do not see yet know are no longer empty because of our sharing.  

As we gather around the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, I can’t help but think about all the tables, both seen and unseen, that we as Week of Compassion have set.  Thanks to you, we have provided sustenance, nutritious meals, agricultural development, wells and systems that lead to adequate clean water, tools and training, seeds, and paths to food security for individuals, groups, and communities the world over.  This is the table we set.  As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast tomorrow, I hope you’ll set the table knowing that it is not the only table you set...and that you remember the many tables that are now plentiful because of your gifts of compassion.  
 

I am reminded, too, of the table Jesus prepared in that upper room, surrounded by his disciples.  Let us not forget that before he broke the bread to feed his friends, he first blessed it, giving thanks for it, and then made sure there was enough of it for all to be fed.

May your table be blessed with good food, and may it nourish your body and spirit, empowering you to ensure that all have enough to eat.  May you celebrate all the blessings that are yours.

Happy Thanksgiving from Week of Compassion.  

This week’s responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Illinois, Tornado Damage (33)
Philippines, Typhoon Recovery
USA, U. S. Storms, Floods, Tornadoes and Wildfires
Indiana, Tornado Damage
Pennsylvania, House Fire
California, Church Vandalism

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Texas, Long Term Recovery in West

Week of Compassion responds to Midwestern storms

A swath of tornados struck the Midwestern United States yesterday, causing significant damage across the region. Media outlets are reporting that 68 tornados were spotted, leaving thousands without power, destroying hundreds of homes, and killing 6 people in Illinois.


Communities from Washington, IL to Kokomo, IN, have been impacted. Week of Compassion is currently monitoring the situation and working with regional offices to assess needs. We have been in touch with Regional Ministers and local church pastors and will continue to respond as needed. As always, Week of Compassion and our partners are committed to Long Term Recovery in communities affected by disasters and plan to respond in the days to come.

We give thanks to the God who calls us to respond to chaos with hope, peace, and compassion, and we give thanks for all of you who partner with us to minister to those affected. Please consider putting your Compassion into Action by responding to needs in Illinois and Indiana.

Deaths in Philippines continue in typhoon wake

Through the ACT Alliance, Week of Compassion is already on the ground in the Philippines. Your gifts have enabled us to support this immediate relief effort.  More support is needed.  Here is the latest report from ACT members working in the disaster zone.

Food supplies from aid agencies, foreign governments and Filipino authorities are reaching hard-hit regions of the country, yet the situation for many people remains dire and deaths continue.  A week after the super typhoon, reports of recent fatalities arrive at the ACT Alliance coordination office in Manila, some from friends and family of ACT member staff. Other staff wait for word from missing family in areas with poor mobile phone reception. 

Friends of Andy Tiver, who works for a local ACT member, were at home on an island in the Visayas group when Haiyan struck. Although Biliran island was relatively sheltered from the full force of the storm, Haiyan nonetheless ripped off the roof of the home where Tiver's friends, a young mother and her baby son, Johnpaul (CORR) lived. They took shelter with relatives.

"They were fine for the first day or so but then they ran out of food for the two month old," Tiver says. "They were feeding the baby rice milk but after a few days he started getting diarrhea and became dehydrated. When they ran out of rice milk, they turned to coconut milk to feed the baby. "They wanted to take the baby to hospital but the news was that it wasn't open. Even if it had been, there wasn't the gas to get them there."

Food aid arrived on the morning of November 13, but by then the child was chronically ill. He died a day later. The story is repeated across the central Philippines, Tiver said.

In north Samar, another relative of the family had evacuated the area as no food was available. Any food that was in shops was prohibitively expensive, Tiver said.

Most relief packages contain provisions for a week. "But if the families have lost everything and they've got no livelihood, the food aid will need to go on for a long time. What comes next? How do you re-establish people's livelihood? How do you fish anywhere when you've lost your boats and fishing tackle, especially in the worst affected places?"

He particularly fears for the elderly and infants stuck without relief in the disaster areas.

The number of people reported dead is 4460, according to the United Nations' emergency unit, UNOCHA. The total number affected by the disaster is today up nearly 400,000 to 11.8 million across nine regions. An estimated 2.5 million people urgently need food aid. Nearly a million have been forced from their homes and a quarter of a million houses destroyed.

ACT is hard at work, with 10 members delivering emergency food, shelter, water and sanitation facilities in the central Visayas region. Post-disaster work will include rebuilding livelihoods, agriculture programs and disaster prevention. An ACT appeal for $14.1m launched this week will support 235,900 people over five Visayas islands - Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu and Iloilo.

Sudhanshu Singh, ACT Haiyan response coordinator, says the response focuses on the core competencies of ACT members. The newly set up ACT coordination center in Manila will ensure members get the latest information and make best use of their resources and relief programs. ACT members will be present in most UN clusters, which are aid organization groups differentiated by relief sectors.

Survivors urgently need household basics, such as food, bedding, water, blankets, tarpaulins, tents, medicines, mosquito nets, generators, hygiene kits and kitchen utensils, plastic sheets and tents. One of the most urgent needs is safe drinking water and hygiene kits across all affected areas. 

Thank you for putting your compassion into action and enabling Week of Compassion to be present, in the name of Christ, for those who desperately need our care.  For more information, or to donate to this effort, please visit www.weekofcompassion.org.


 
 

This week's responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Philippines, Typhoon Relief
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Haiti, Revitalization of Haitian Agriculture

Typhoon Haiyan Shocks the Philippines

Your gifts of compassion are already at work.  Week of Compassion immediately responded to the news of the horrific typhoon that swept through the Philippines last Friday morning, thanks to you.  Funds were sent to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, through Global Ministries.  Typhoon Haiyan is one of the worst recorded typhoons in history. It has already killed at least 1,200 people, but unconfirmed sources estimate over 10,000 deaths. 4.5 million people have been affected.  Death toll in the typhoon-hit areas is rising as areas currently out of contact are reached. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced. Hardest hit is the central Philippine city of Tacloban, which is said to be flattened and where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. The damage to airports and roads is hampering initial relief efforts, the BBC said.

The scene across the Philippines is one of severe destruction with fallen trees, damaged roads and buildings, downed power lines and telecommunications. Even though the Typhoon has now passed the Philippines, flash floods and landslides which cause additional danger can be expected. The areas hit cover already poverty-stricken communities, which have suffered from successive and simultaneous emergencies. On October 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol province in central Philippines. As a result of that emergency alone, over 344,300 people are displaced and living in makeshift shelters built in open spaces near their homes. These people are in dire need of food, non-food items and other emergency relief materials.

The Typhoon continues its journey to Vietnam where it has been downgraded to a tropical storm.  There are already hundreds of thousands homeless in Vietnam due to previous storms this year.  Last month Typhoon Nari caused the evacuation of over 122,000 people in Vietnam. 

The ACT Alliance, through whom Week of Compassion also responds, is preparing for a major humanitarian operation as its members head into the Philippines disaster area today.  ACT Members are now in one of the worst hit areas to identify immediate needs. ACT member Lutheran World Relief (LWR) will lead the humanitarian assistance team to the Eastern Visayas city of Tacloban and surrounding areas of northern Leyte, with a representative from fellow ACT member Christian Aid. 

Gifts to Week of Compassion are being used to provide immediate effective lifesaving assistance.  Thank you for your generosity during this devastating disaster; it is your compassion that allows Week of Compassion to take action.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it;  if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”  1 Corinthians 12:26 

This week's responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Philippines, Typhoon Relief

 

A Week in the Life of Week of Compassion

Hurricane Relief for the Congo

Our brother in Christ and leader of the Disciples of Christ Community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rev. Bonanga, has shared that a severe hurricane struck several places in the Equator. He has recently returned from a pastoral visit on Monday which took him to all of the affected areas of disaster, including Lofoy, Boende, Boyeka, Ingende and Monieka. "The faithful were very happy to see me and the visit was a joyous occasion but there were also painful moments," he expressed.

Rev. Bonanga recounted that on the night of Tuesday, October 29, "a strong hurricane struck our Ecclesial Posts in Lofoy and Monieka and caused significant damage especially to our two chapels in Eandja and Bonkema and four chapels in the district of Monieka; thus a total of six chapels destroyed. We note that the chapel in Ituka was a historic place for our church as it is in this village that the bodies of our three missionaries who died in a plane crash in 1969 (Ms. Goodall, the pilot and another) were found. We had built a chapel and a health post in their memory."

The members of our Congolese congregations will now mobilize to manufacture new bricks. Week of Compassion funds will assist with the purchase of roofing material (sheets of tin) and nails. In collaboration with funds from the United Church of Christ's One Great Hour of Sharing, which also helps to fund the mission of Global Ministries, WoC is grateful to once again be able to reach out and put our compassion into action as we respond to this most recent disaster in the Congo. For as we know, when even one of our sisters or brothers are in need, we all are in need.

Syria Relief Continues

Sadly, the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues. And so, Week of Compassion continues to respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers in this ravaged land. Our hearts ache for such pain, suffering, and destruction. As in any crisis of this magnitude, the health-related issues are ever-growing. The World Health Organization has now confirmed ten cases of polio in north-eastern Syria. Yet an estimated half-million children in Syria are not vaccinated due to the ongoing conflict. UNICEF runs a vaccination campaign in Syria and Jordan; thus we are hopeful that more children will be vaccinated. Until then, however, WoC funds are already at work with our ACT Alliance and Global Ministries partners throughout Syria and the region, responding to the health and humanitarian needs of children.

Our most active ACT Alliance partner agency in these relief efforts is International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). In October, a mortar attack in Damascus damaged the Church of the Holy Cross where IOCC conducts many of its activities. Please keep IOCC and their staff in your prayers. We thank you for your ongoing commitment and compassion as we engage in this complex humanitarian response.

Coffee Rust Plague in Central America

Meanwhile, Central America is undergoing the worst Coffee Rust plague since 1976. The state of phytosanitary emergency (measures for the control of plant diseases) has been declared in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.

The Coffee Rust Plague is a fungus that affects the leaves and destroys crops and plants. Once it attacks, the only option is to destroy an entire coffee plantation to prevent the spread of the fungus. Affected farms will not yield coffee for another two or three years as it will take at least two years for seedlings to fully grow and produce coffee.

In January, the government of Honduras declared a national emergency because of the Coffee Rust problem, which has affected a quarter of the nation's planted surface. Harvests are likely to decline by up to 30 to 40 percent in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12 levels. As the labor used to harvest the crop will not be needed - with some 1 million people employed in the coffee industry - Fewsnet, the United States Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning System, predicts that food insecurity in Honduras will likely increase in 2014, especially among subsistence farmers and seasonal laborers. That could increase migratory pressures towards North America.

Seventy-five percent of the economy of Honduras´s department (or province) of Santa Barbara revolves around coffee. Coffee sales and sale of labor for coffee cutting are the most important source of income for the vast majority of the population and October is when the demand for labor normally begins. Santa Barbara is the locale of a five-year food security program targeting 426 families in 14 communities. Primary WoC partner Church World Service has initiated a partnership with Comision de Accion Social Menonita de Honduras, known as CASM, and Foods Resource Bank (FRB), another important WoC partner.

These WoC partners recently visited affected communities in Santa Barbara and were able to witness first-hand the devastating effect of Coffee Rust in the fields. The staff team saw the enthusiasm and openness of local families to diversify their farms; expand and make more efficient use of their home vegetable gardens; pilot new livelihoods; work together; and maximize available resources.

In the current CWS and WoC-supported efforts, Santa Barbara families will receive vegetable seeds, plantain trees, aquaculture, chicken coops, help with improving agro-livestock production, agricultural inputs, nutritional education, access to alternative livelihoods and on-site technical assistance in creating integral farm practices and vegetable gardens.

As always, WoC thanks you for your contribution to responding to all of these disasters and so much more. We are able to respond so faithfully, effective, and quickly only because of YOUR gifts, offerings, and compassion. Thank you so much for being a critical part of this ministry and mission.

This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Missouri, Housefire 
Democratic Republic of Congo, Hurricane Damage
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Chad, Sustainable Recovery
Haiti, Ongoing Earthquake Recovery

One Is Too Many: Week of Compassion Partners With IMA World Health on "We Will Speak Out"


In 2013, the World Health Organization reported that 1 in 3 women globally will experience sexual and gender based violence in her lifetime; a study released in 2011 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had already produced similar findings in the US, while noting that along with 1 in 3 American women, as many as 1 in 4 American men will experience this violence as well.

WeWillSpeakOut.US is a movement of diverse faith groups from across the US joining other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence around sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). The movement's mission is to work at local, national and global levels to raise awareness, care for victims, encourage law enforcement and change our culture of inaction. 

SGBV is a public health concern affecting people physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In line with its mission of alleviating the suffering of others, Week of Compassion recognizes the importance of empowering churches and individuals to address this issue in our communities and around the world. IMA World Health is proud to partner with Week of Compassion and amplify the efforts of many dedicated organizations, congregations and individuals working to put an end to this violence.

WHY THE FAITH COMMUNITY?

In 2011, International Development Charity Tearfund released 'Silent No More,' a report highlighting the Church's collective silence and failure to adequately respond to SGBV around the world. It called all churches to account and to action, spurring the We Will Speak Out movement. The faith community is a powerful agent of social change and possesses a founding principle of love and the abundance of voices needed to influence culture. 

END THE SILENCE

November 24, 2013: SPEAK OUT SUNDAY is a day for congregations and people of all faiths to unite to speak out, pray and end the epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence in our communities and our world.   We invite you, our partners across the life of the church to SPEAK OUT and address how our churches, communities, and world are affected by SGBV and how we can advocate on behalf of those affected, help create healing, and work for ways to keep people safe.

Details, Downloads, and Ideas for raising your voice are available at www.wewillspeakout.us.

To put your Compassion into Action and support the innovative, impactful work of IMA World Health and other partners of Week of Compassion, please follow this link.

This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Lebanon, Syrian Refugee Support

Celebrate Fair Trade Month with Week of Compassion Partners!

Sometimes all it takes to put your Compassion into Action is buying a cup of coffee or lighting a candle.

Since 2008, Week of Compassion has partnered with Disciples Home Missions and Equal Exchange to involve more Disciples in supporting small farmers around the world through the Disciples Coffee Project.

For each pound of fairly traded coffee, chocolate, tea, and foods Disciples purchase through the Coffee Project, 15 cents per pound goes to the Project's Small Farmer Fund, supporting food security projects through the Disciples' local partners, including small scale agricultural and anti-hunger projects. These projects are located in countries in which Equal Exchange coffee is grown and harvested. That fund amounted to $1,771.09 in 2012 alone!

Every October, Week of Compassion joins with smallholder farmers, artisans, their partners, and other supporters to celebrate Fair Trade Month.  If you've ever considered serving fair trade coffee at your church, holding a unique fundraiser that reflects your commitment to smallholder farmers, or if you would like to make fair trade chocolate, coffee, and tea a part of your household routine, Fair Trade Month is a great time to start something new.  What's more, by choosing to support fair trade through the Disciples Coffee Project, you are making your purchase count twice--whose co-ops are at the heart of Equal Exchange and in lives and livelihoods of those investing in food security projects in their communities.  

You can even make more of an impact with a purchase from the Congo Coffee Project, and support life-saving treatment, counseling and aftercare programs to more than 2,000 survivors of sexual violence each year at the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

For the last several years, we've also partnered with Prosperity Candle, whose fair trade model provides living wages for refugee women whose lives are transformed when they become artisan candle makers.  Our unique partnership with Prosperity Candle means that a portion of your purchase goes to support Week of Compassion's Women's Empowerment Fund.  It's an incredible way to give a gift to someone you care about and at the same time impact the life of a woman, her family, and her community. 

If you've ever wondered about how your choices as a consumer might make a better impact in the world, why not choose October--Fair Trade Month--to make your new commitment?  Why not choose to put your Compassion into Action with a votive, some tea, or by passing out fair trade chocolate to trick or treaters?

Why not start today?

Thanks for putting your Compassion into Action.  From the refugee crisis facing Syria and its neighbors to flood recovery in Colorado, there are ways for you to contribute.  Follow this link to help. 

This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Alabama, Housefire 
Philippines, Earthquake 
Lebanon, Food Security

A Letter from Amy Gopp, WoC Executive Director

October 9, 2013 

Dear Friends, 

Life never ceases to amaze, delight, challenge, and surprise me.  After eight unforgettable and fulfilling years with Week of Compassion, I will be moving on to a new position with Church World Service.  As of January 2014, I will begin to live into my new call as the Director of Member Relations and Pastoral Care for CWS Global.  I look forward to the next few months of transition as a search process is put in place and I take my leave. 

It has been the greatest honor of my ministry and life thus far to have served as the first Associate and then Executive Director of our beloved Week of Compassion.  I could not feel prouder of the work we all do, together, to serve God’s children in need.  My earnest hope is that this denomination that I love with all my heart will continue to prioritize the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, and the otherwise forgotten.  It is my true joy to have served alongside you in this way and to continue to serve Christ alongside you ecumenically, but as “one of us” within CWS and the wider ecumenical community. 

I wish and pray all good gifts for each and every one of you.  Thank you for your collegiality, collaboration, and friendship.  How blessed I am to be a part of this church family.  

Your partner in the Gospel,
Always,

  

Rev. Amy C. Gopp
Executive Director
Week of Compassion

  

This week’s responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Georgia, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Washington, Water Damage

2013 3rd Quarter Compassion into Action Fund Report

The Compassion Response Fund is an allocation the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee makes each year to enable WoC to respond quickly to requests for emergencies, disasters and other urgent and unexpected needs that arise. It also supports sustainable development requests for longer-term needs that arise out of situations of chronic hunger and poverty, displacement, and a lack of access to medical care and health services, education, or water. 

For 2013 the WoC Committee has allocated $750,000 for the Compassion into Action Fund; it is the single largest item in the WoC program budget. In addition to what is budgeted for the Fund, WoC receives designated gifts for the Fund and for specific disasters, countries, and situations that further enhance our capacity to respond to emergency needs and appeals as well as sustainable development efforts worldwide.

Below is a brief report of grants made from the Compassion Response Fund and other designated disaster response accounts through September 2013. Contributions for the Compassion into Action Fund are needed and welcomed and will be used for compassionate, effective, immediate, and sustainable responses to humanitarian needs in the world.

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

New York, Hurricane Recovery
Oklahoma, House Fire
Missouri, Long-term Flood Recovery
Texas, Emergency Assistance for Refugee Family
Serbia, Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water
Malawi, Flooding and Windstorms Assistance
Solomon Islands, Earthquake and Tsunami Assistance
Syria, Humanitarian Crisis
Somalia, Humanitarian Support for Somali Refugees
Sudan, Darfur, Humanitarian Assistance
Democratic Republic of Congo, Assistance to Internally Displaced People
California, Vandalism to First Christian Church Oakland and Oakland Peace Center
Mississippi, Tornado Relief
Mozambique, Flooding
Sri Lanka, Flooding
Missouri, Kansas City Gas Explosion
Mozambique, Flooding
Indiana, House Fire
Alabama, Storm Damage
Mali, Conflict Affected
Armenia, Syrian Refugees
United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Taiwan, Earthquake Relief Work
Kentucky, Church Fire
Madagascar, Tropical Cyclone "Haruna" Relief
Ghana, Severe Rain Storm Relief
Haiti, Villier Family Emergency
Thailand, Thai-Burma Border Refugee Camp Fire
Palestine, Palestinian Refugee Relief
West Virginia, Church Vandalism
Indonesia, Rokatenda Volcano Eruption
Oregon, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Illinois-Wisconsin, Flood Response (12)
Southwest Region, Relief Efforts in West, Texas
China, Earthquake Relief
Indiana, Flood Damage (2)
United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Illinois-Wisconsin, Flood Damage (3)
China, Earthquake Relief (2)
Oregon, Emergency Food Security Needs
Pakistan-Iran, Earthquake Relief
New York, House Fire
Tennessee, Flood Damage
Pakistan, Displacement
NAPAD, Emergency Request
Indiana, Flood Assistance (2)
Jordan, Syrian Refugees
Ohio, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Texas, Tornado Damage (13)
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (16)
North America, 2013 Tornadoes
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (2)
Missouri, Tornado Relief (2)
Oklahoma, Tornado Relief (29)
Missouri, Tornado Damage
Kenya, Refugee Assistance
Illinois, Flood Damage
Colorado, Wildfires
Virginia, Windstorm Damage
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (2)
Lebanon, Refugee Medical Support
Minnesota, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Mauritania, Refugee Assistance
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (3)
Texas, Church Theft/Vandalism
Chicago, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Illinois, Flood Damage (2)
Nepal, Flood Assistance
China, Earthquake Relief
Central Africa Republic, Support and Protection to War Affected Communities
Mali, Support to Conflict Affected
Uganda, Refugee Assistance
Namibia, Drought Assistance
Angola, Drought Assistance
Palestine, Continuous Support for Gaza and West Bank
Myanmar, IDP Assistance
Pakistan, Support to Conflict Affected
China, Earthquake Relief
Missouri, Flood Damage
Tennessee, Flood Damage
Georgia, Flood Damage
Kansas, Flood Damage (2)
Missouri, Fire Damage
Nicaragua, Flood Relief
Cameroon, Refugee Assistance
Syria, IDP Crisis
Egypt, Recovery and Rebuilding of Churches
Democratic Republic of Congo, Storm Damage
Philippines, Flood Damage
Colombia, Displaced Farmers
Russia, Flood Relief
Washington, Flood Damage
Texas, House Fire
Syria, Humanitarian Crisis
Colorado, Flood Damage (7)
Texas, Refugee Assistance
Alaska, Flood Damage
Ethiopia, Flash Floods
New York, Sandy Damage
Jordan, Syrian Refugee Crisis
Colorado, Flood Damage (2)
Namibia, Storm Damage
Colorado, Flood Damage
Romania, Flooding
Laos, Landslide and Flash Flooding
Colorado, Flood Damage (1)
Texas, Southwest Good Samaritan Refugee Ministry

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation

Syria, Refugee Assistance
Texas, Support of Long-Term Recovery Work for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Hurricane Isaac and US Summer Storms 2012 Assistance
Florida, Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers
Lafayette, Indiana Growing Project, Foods Resource Bank
Balkans, Peacebuilding and Development
Chad, Sustainable Recovery
Mississippi, Solidarity Grant
Haiti, Trauma Recovery
Haiti, Recovery and Long-Term Development
Haiti, CONASPEH Projects
Indiana, Greater Indianapolis Disciples Area Association Habitat Team
West Africa, Food Security
New York, Poverty Reduction
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Women’s Income Generation Project
Bolivia, Empowering Guarani Youth
Georgia, Vocational and Educational Opportunities for Youth
Uganda, Karamoja Education and Youth Empowerment
Serbia, Roma Women’s Empowerment
Georgia, Children and Youth Development
Kenya, School Safe Zone
Vietnam, Cleaner Villages
Ghana, Environmental Climate Change
Swaziland, Food Security
Ghana, Domestic and Gender Based Violence
South Africa, Girl's Empowerment
Ecuador, Community Development
Sierra Leone, Enhancing Welfare for Children
Middle East, Muslim/Christian Dialogue
Laos, Community Development
Tanzania, Combatting Burkitts Lymphoma
Palestine, Peacebuilding
Cambodia, Food Security
Honduras, Food Security
Nicaragua, Food Security
Uganda, Food Security
Timor, Food Security
Haiti, Long-Term Recovery and Development
Kentucky, FRB Growing Project
IMA World Health, We Will Speak Out U.S. - Sexual and Gender Based Violence Campaign and Programming
Oklahoma, Long Term Tornado Recovery (2)

Some Dos and Don’ts for Disaster Recovery

Last week, in response to the devastating floods in Colorado, Week of Compassion provided this list as a helpful guideline for congregations and communities affected by disasters.  These suggestions draw upon the experience and knowledge of Disciples Volunteering and Week of Compassion, as well as the great resources we have in our partners from Church World Service, colleagues from FEMA, and the amazing volunteers who make up community-based Long Term Recovery Committees.

Even if your community has not experienced a disaster, these suggestions are great to keep on hand in the event of a disaster affecting your community.

DO: Check on your members, neighbors, and especially those who are elderly, disabled, or vulnerable in other ways.

DON'T: Self-deploy as a volunteer, especially during the search and rescue phase. You will only get in the way or put yourself in danger. 

DO: If there are needs in your congregation, please contact your Regional Office, so they can coordinate ways to provide support through Week of Compassion.

DO: Check with your local VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) about needs of survivors before collecting any material donations. 

DON'T: Collect material donations without arranging an appropriate destination (local social service agency, etc). 

DO: Know that money is the most flexible donation you can make. Week of Compassion is an efficient way to turn your generosity into assistance.

DO: If eligible, encourage all affected folks in your congregation and community to apply to FEMA for Federal Disaster Assistance. Please be aware that this is a long process, and be sure to read all documents carefully. An initial rejection does not mean one cannot appeal; an applicant may also be eligible for low-interest loans to replace damaged property. 

DON'T: Get discouraged by how long the process takes.

DO:  Become familiar with FEMA's sequence of delivery. 

DON'T: Be careful not to organize material good distributions that might compromise an affected person's eligibility for aid. (Let the sequence of delivery be your guide.)

DO: Encourage leaders in your congregations to become involved in the formation of a long- term recovery committee and to put their skills to work.

DO: Stay Hopeful. Recovery takes a long time, even among well-supported, well-organized communities.

If you would like to support communities affected by disaster, put your Compassion into Action by partnering with Week of Compassion. Thanks for all of the ways you support needs here and around the world!

This week’s responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Colorado, Flood Damage
Romania, Flooding
Laos, Landslide and Flash Flooding

Relief Efforts for Colorado Continue

Continuing heavy rains that began the week of September 8 continue to cause severe flooding in Colorado. Sadly, fatalities have been reported.  Additionally, hundreds have been injured and many more reported missing.  At this early stage 1,500 homes have been destroyed and another 17,500 are damaged, according to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management. The flooding along the North Fork Thompson River, the South Platte River and others waterways in the drainage system ranges from Fort Collins to Canon City, Colorado.  

Week of Compassion’s primary partner, Church World Service, has deployed Disaster Response Specialists who are currently working with state, regional and local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other agencies to determine where CWS can help or will be needed.

As always, CWS will be providing material resources, such as Clean Up Buckets, Baby Care Kits, School Kits, Hygiene Kits and Blankets, as requested.  We are in need of more of these items

As the situation moves from immediate search and rescue efforts to long-term recovery work, CWS will respond to requests for training support as well as to requests for financial support to get long-term recovery committees organized and operating.  CWS also continues to monitor river conditions for additional flooding.  Shelters and feeding operations are up and operating and more will be set up as needed.  Extensive power outages are expected and sheltering may be required for extended periods. CWS and its partner organizations have personnel on standby and ready to go to work.

During disaster such as this, now is the time to remember that the most important humanitarian donation that an individual or congregation can make is cash. There are already reports of heaps of used clothing piling up in Colorado: clothing and other materials that do little to restore the dignity of survivors.  Remember, financial help is best.  

Thank you for putting your Compassion in Action by responding to this disaster.  We are grateful for all that you enable us to continue to do to reach out to those most affected by this devastating situation. 

This week’s responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Jordan, Syrian Refugee Crisis
Colorado, Flood Damage (2)
Namibia, Storm Damage

Compassion for Colorado

"Gracious God, whose intention is that your whole creation would know life in abundance, we pray this morning in thanksgiving that you are with us even in the midst of hard things, even in the midst of too-much.  We know that you have not willed these terrible floods for, as scripture says, you wish no one ill.  And so, we pray, when the waters around us become not life-giving but founts of fear and frustration be with us.  Find us with your care.  Find us with your hope.  Be with those who have suffered huge loss and particularly those who have lost not only homes and livelihoods but loved ones.  Hold them tight, hold them close.  We pray in the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, the One Who never leaves us and seeks always to lift us above the deluge.  Amen."
--Rev. Chuck Blaisdell
Senior Pastor
First Christian Church, Colorado Springs 

The calls have been coming. 

 

Boulder. Fort Collins. Fort Morgan.  Colorado Springs. Tiny communities whose names don't jump out quickly from the map. 

The rain has fallen for days in Colorado. Communities are flooded, houses submerged and the full extent of flood damage is still unfolding.  We've been in constant contact with Rev. Jose Morales, Central Rocky Mountain Regional Minister, and many of the churches affected by the floods.  Needs are still being assessed, as many folks are still unable to get into their homes.

Perhaps most striking is a recent statement from the Colorado VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) to National VOAD affiliates, which includes our partners at CWS: National partners are being asked not to deploy to Colorado at this time.  First responders are still performing search and rescue.  Even highly skilled volunteers who are accustomed to being first on the scene are being told to stay far away.  It is just not time for volunteers. 

And yet, because of your generosity, help is on the way.  The steady leadership of our regional office, the caring compassion of the ministers who care for our congregations, and the active engagement of so many other leaders in those faith communities has meant that help has come as soon as assessments of damage are made.  Week of Compassion is there.  Your compassion has already been put into action-and it will continue to do so in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead that make up long term recovery.

Our prayers stay with all of those in these communities-and so many other places yet to be mentioned in the news-affected by these floods.  If you would like to put your Compassion into Action, simply click here.

Thanks be to the God whose hope finds us, even in the midst of a deluge.

This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Syria, Humanitarian Crisis 
Colorado, Flood Damage (7) 
Texas, Refugee Assistance 
Alaska, Flood Damage 
Ethiopia, Flash Floods 
New York, Sandy Damage

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
IMA World Health, We Will Speak Out U.S. - Sexual and Gender Based Violence Campaign and Programming

 

Online Giving Update

Dear Faithful Friends,

The peace of Christ be with you!

We are so grateful for you, our committed partners, and for your dedicated support.  Over the last few weeks it has come to our attention that those of you who choose to support Week of Compassion through online giving have received some confusing email messages from Network for Good, the service that facilitates online giving for us.  We would like to help clarify the issues raised by these emails.

Network for Good recently changed their template and thus changed the way they communicate with on-line donors.  Several of you have contacted us, noting that you have been notified that a gift you intended for Week of Compassion was directed to "General Assembly of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ."

Your tax receipt references "General Assembly of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ" because that is the legal name listing of the organization through Network for Good's trusted partner Guidestar, which operates off the IRS tax filings for nonprofit organizations.  Week of Compassion is listed as an "also known as" name for the organization in the organization's Guidestar profile, but the actual legal name of the organization is General Assembly of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.  Tax receipts that Network for Good issues to donors must reference the legal name of the organization as it is listed in Guidestar, which is why your tax receipts do not say Week of Compassion.  As confusing as it seems, Week of Compassion and General Assembly of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ are the same organization. Your donation is still going where you have intended it to go. 

WoC and Treasury Services is looking into the matter and exploring other on-line giving options that are less confusing.  We are so grateful for your gracious generosity, and we thank you for your patience and understanding.

Your partner in service,

  

Amy Gopp
Executive Director, Week of Compassion

This week's responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Washington, Flood Damage 
Texas, House Fire

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation
Kentucky, FRB Growing Project

Mission Opportunity in Joplin and a New Resource for Congregations

Disciples/UCC House Build in Joplin!

Join South Joplin Christian Church in Joplin, MO this fall during the months of September and October to work on building a special project: a Disciples/UCC sponsored house.  Volunteers will begin their work after the foundation and framing are done and we will work until the house is finished.  This will be the primary project for Disciples and UCC volunteers in Joplin during these months, although some volunteers may assist other projects.

For those who plan to register for a week, you are invited to register through Disciples Volunteering

If you would like to come for a few days, you are invited to join other Disciples and UCCers during the week of September 22 by registering with Pastor Kathryn Wilson at 417- 624-2522 or getting a registration form at www.southjoplindisciples.org.

For other questions, call Pastor Kathryn at 417-624-2522.

Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness and Response Tools for Congregations 
Available Spring 2014

“Help and Hope is an indispensable tool for faith communities to prepare for the critical role they can play when disasters impact their community. This resource is just what the relief and emergency response field has been missing and what North American communities of faith have needed. At last, an accessible book providing important guidance on how to be an asset rather than an obstacle when assisting those who have been affected by disaster.”  - from the Foreword by Donna J. Derr, Development and Humanitarian Assistance Director, Church World Service

Joplin, Aurora, New York/New Jersey, Newtown. Whether the disaster is natural or created by humans, churches respond by providing sanctuary, hope, and practical aid. Pulled from accounts of lay persons, disaster response professionals, and “pastors in disasters,” Help and Hope provides practical applications for non-professionals and volunteers from faith communities who want to help prepare for and respond to disasters.

Edited by Week of Compassion’s Amy Gopp and Brandon Gilvin and produced in cooperation with Church World Service, this book is designed with utility in mind, with quick reference tabs, checklists, and space for your own notes. Help and Hope prepares you to be, literally, the shelter from the storm.

Available for $16.99, copies can be pre-ordered by contacting Chalice Press.

This week’s responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Nicaragua, Flood Relie
Cameroon, Refugee Assistance

A Disaster in Our Back Yard: Lessons Learned

What One Church Has Learned from Disaster Relief

Rev. Brian Coats serves as Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church, Waco, TX.  Central has offered significant support for recovery efforts following the devastating April 17, 2013 factory explosion in West, TX.  Week of Compassion has partnered with Central in its response and is currently working to support long-term recovery in West. Brian offers the following reflections on congregational disaster response:

In 2005, I served a church 334 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. We spent four months that year doing Katrina relief ministry. So when the West Fertilizer Company plant exploded in West, Texas, 21 miles from the church I now serve, I knew things were about to get interesting, and we would need to be involved in the relief and recovery.

WHEN LIFE EXPLODES

I first heard about the explosion from a tweet, around 8:45 pm. As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, my wife’s cell phone rang. It was her grandmother, asking if we were close to West, Texas. For the next two hours, between social media and television news, I began to get an idea that something bad had happened. Our associate pastor, Kristin Jack, and I began texting back and forth.

Around 11 pm, I made a trip to a local grocery store because the news was reporting that emergency shelters were springing up all over the Waco area. The next day, some church members came up and we made sack lunches for about 70 and then delivered them to one of the shelters. That same day, we sent an e-mail to our Area office, letting other Disciples churches know we would be collecting donations for West. We also put a notice on our marquee that said “blankets and toiletries for West.” Less than 24 hours later, we had half a classroom full of diapers, dry goods, toiletries, blankets and pillows. Two days after that - following at least three full-trailer deliveries from other Disciple churches - our storehouse was literally overflowing.

The weekend after the blast, our youth minister Trent Futral and I drove up to West to drop off a few of the supplies. I connected with a West resident who worked in their schools. Three of the four schools in the town of about 2500 were damaged, so almost all of the students were being displaced. I signed us up to prepare 14 “goodie bags” to greet the West ISD teachers at their new school, along with 94 bags for students. A few hours later, that number had ballooned to 500. As I knew we had an able project director in Kristin, I said yes without hesitation!

By Sunday morning, we were making 700 student goodie bags and 50 teacher goodie bags. Kristin did an incredible job mobilizing what seemed like the entire church to stuff these bags with donated school supplies, novelties, snacks and water, gift cards for the teachers and notes that said, “You are loved.” After worship, around 30 adults and children delivered the goodie bags to the campus that West students were moving to because the walls and windows of their former campuses were blown to pieces.

And again - that was just the first week. Since that initial week, through the Waco Disaster Relief Network, we have sponsored four families that lost their homes in the explosion, plugged into the long-term recovery effort, began meeting regularly to evaluate our aid and relief efforts, and met with representatives from Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering.

STRATEGIC AND EFFECTIVE HELP

As I told the congregation the Sunday after the tragedy, our prayer would be that we would help in ways that were strategic, effective and long-lasting. Nevertheless, as the narrative of those first few days (an abbreviated narrative, believe it or not!) after the blast illustrate, even “action-packed” stops short of being a complete and adequate description of life at this church since April 17. When it comes to West relief and recovery, we have been running downhill, praying God would use us and channel our resources to those in need.

As I said at the beginning, I really felt proximity would be important. I think that has been true - we are one of the closest Disciple churches to what remains of the plant. Key leaders and staff have commented often that we felt thrust into this in-the-trenches relief work without much of a manual. Now, looking back on the last three months, I think we have learned a few things.

First, we witnessed first-hand how supply collections can be problematic. In addition to the blankets and toiletries for West we had solicited, people also donated used clothing and toys—things for which we had neither immediate need nor a means for distributing. Instead, we held a garage sale during our busy first week of responding. Everything was priced at $1, and we made about $1800 for supporting recovery efforts.

Everyone who dropped off items was well-intended and thoughtful. But the sheer volume was overwhelming. Just days after the disaster, media outlets throughout this part of the world were quoting West officials saying, “No more supplies!” We wanted to serve as a donation drop-off point and a hub for churches throughout the Southwest Region - and we did - but getting those supplies to the right people and the right organizations became a full-time job for our Outreach Chair, who already had a full-time job! Maybe this is why I resonate with Week of Compassion’s “Pray-Pay-Stay” message. Those really are the best things you can often do after a disaster.

I really believe praying, paying and staying are three appropriate and faithful responses, but ironically as a pastor I am always looking for ways to increase participatory service and ministry. If something happens near your church, you may feel similarly. If our experience offers any learning, I would say be creative. Watching children, youth and adults from three to 93 fill up goodie bags and watching dozens of church members organize a garage sale in less than five days was inspiring and uplifting. It is possible to mobilize your people for relief work - relief work that truly is value-added - but you will need to be creative and be open to a crash-course in best practices from your local VOAD, Long Term Recovery Committee, and partners like Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and Church World Service.

Finally, I have heard this so many times, but now I think I get it. You really do need to be ready and you really do need to be prepared for a disaster BEFORE a disaster occurs. We have made some wise decisions since the blast, and we have made some not-so-wise decisions since the blast, but all of those decisions have been in the crucible and crunch of a sad, sad event - the loss of life and having one’s entire world blown up. Thinking through processes and procedures without so much pressure is important and necessary.

THANKFUL

I am grateful for the faithful, compassionate response of this church to the West explosion. I am also grateful for Week of Compassion and for Disciples Volunteering. In some ways we have taken a short turn as “boots on the ground” following a disaster, but these two ministries are truly the boots on the ground all of the time. Praying for their work and supporting their ministry is a fantastic response, before, during and after the ground shakes.

This week’s responses:
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance

Central Africa Republic, Support and Protection to War Affected Communities
Mali, Support to Conflict Affected
Uganda, Refugee Assistance
Namibia, Drought Assistance
Angola, Drought Assistance
Palestine, Continuous Support for Gaza and West Bank
Myanmar, IDP Assistance
Pakistan, Support to Conflict Affected
China, Earthquake Relief
Missouri, Flood Damage
Tennessee, Flood Damage
Georgia, Flood Damage
Kansas, Flood Damage (2)
Missouri, Fire Damage

Putting Your Compassion into Action

Looking for a Hands-On Project?  Kits Needed! 

Thanks to the great efforts of CWS communions such as ours, Church World Service has a good stock of CWS Hygiene Kits. But the stock of CWS School Kits, Baby Care Kits and Emergency Cleanup Buckets is very low.  More materials are needed to respond to pending requests and be ready for future emergencies. Information on various kits that may be compiled and donated to CWS may be found at http://www.cwsglobal.org/get-involved/kits

  

CWS Kits are small packages of supplies assembled by volunteers and shipped to people in need around the world.  The contents of each kit have been selected with care based on years of experience to make them as useful as possible, wherever and whenever they are sent. 

Kits may be sent to CWS all year.  Each kit page provides a list of items to include, along with packing and shipping information to our collection centers in New Windsor, Md. and Little Rock, Ark. Some states have drop-off points at various times as well.

Cash donations in lieu of assembled kits also help us to provide much-needed supplies.

Thank you for giving from the heart!  Your continuing support of this program is very important and helps to ensure CWS Kits are available for immediate response after a disaster.  If you have any questions, read our FAQs, or call your CWS Regional Office toll-free at 888-297-2767. 

Responding to Children after Disasters                  

Since 1980, Children's Disaster Services has been caring for children after disasters in shelters and assistance centers by providing volunteers specially trained and certified to care for children who have experienced a disaster.  Using techniques that utilize toys that encourage expression, volunteers provide a calm safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by a disaster.  Although we are part of Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries, our workshop is open to anyone over the age of 18.  Please visit our website for more information.
 

Children's Disaster Workshops are scheduled for the fall: 

September 20-21, 2013, 703 Whitney Ave, #6, New Haven, CT

Contact:  Bruce Lockwood, lockwoodbruce@comcast.net

November 1-2, 2013, 302 E. 12th Ave, Cordele, GA                 

Contact:  Allison Lindsey, 912-393-5524

November 15-16, 2013, 102 Newtown Road, Groton, CT          

Contact:  Bruce Lockwood, lockwoodbruce@comcast.net 

We find that caring for children after a disaster brings new volunteers to disaster work, often drawing from teachers and childcare providers and others who work with children.  It is important that we fill these workshops, as the more volunteers we have, the faster we can respond to the needs of children after a disaster.  

Thank you for your help!  For other questions about volunteering or training, please contact our office,weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or call (317) 713-2442. 

Thanks for putting your compassion into action by partnering with WoC! 

Compassion in Action: 2nd Quarter Report 2013

The Compassion in Action Fund is an allocation the Week of Compassion Advisory Committee makes each year to enable WoC to respond quickly to requests for emergencies, disasters and other urgent and unexpected needs that arise. It also enables WoC to respond to on-going, long-term needs such as chronic hunger and poverty, water and sanitation, education, and medical assistance.  For 2013 the WoC Committee has allocated $750,000 for the Compassion in Action Fund; it is the single largest item in the WoC program budget. In addition to what is budgeted for this fund, WoC receives designated gifts for the fund and for specific disasters, sustainable development appeals, and countries and situations that further enhance our capacity to respond to emergency and long-term needs.

Below is a brief report of grants made from the Compassion in Action Fund and other designated response accounts through July 22, 2013. Contributions for the Compassion in Action Fund are needed and welcomed and will be used 100% for humanitarian needs in the world.

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 2013

New York, Hurricane Recovery
Oklahoma, House Fire
Missouri, Long-term Flood Recovery
Texas, Emergency Assistance for Refugee Family
Serbia, Improving Access to Safe Drinking Water
Malawi, Flooding and Windstorms Assistance
Solomon Islands, Earthquake and Tsunami Assistance
Syria, Humanitarian Crisis
Somalia, Humanitarian Support for Somali Refugees
Sudan, Darfur, Humanitarian Assistance
Democratic Republic of Congo, Assistance to Internally Displaced People
California, Vandalism to First Christian Church Oakland and Oakland Peace Center
Mississippi, Tornado Relief
Mozambique, Flooding
Sri Lanka, Flooding
Missouri, Kansas City Gas Explosion
Mozambique, Flooding
Indiana, House Fire
Alabama, Storm Damage
Mali, Conflict Affected
Armenia, Syrian Refugees
United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Taiwan, Earthquake Relief Work
Kentucky, Church Fire
Madagascar, Tropical Cyclone "Haruna" Relief
Ghana, Severe Rain Storm Relief
Haiti, Villier Family Emergency
Thailand, Thai-Burma Border Refugee Camp Fire
Palestine, Palestinian Refugee Relief
West Virginia, Church Vandalism
Indonesia, Rokatenda Volcano Eruption
Oregon, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Illinois-Wisconsin, Flood Response (12)
Southwest Region, Relief Efforts in West, Texas
China, Earthquake Relief
Indiana, Flood Damage (2)
United States, Early 2013 Storms, Floods and Tornadoes
Illinois-Wisconsin, Flood Damage (3)
China, Earthquake Relief (2)
Oregon, Emergency Food Security Needs
Pakistan-Iran, Earthquake Relief
New York, House Fire
Tennessee, Flood Damage Pakistan, Displacement
NAPAD, Emergency Request
Indiana, Flood Assistance (2) Jordan, Syrian Refugees
Ohio, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Texas, Tornado Damage (11)
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (16)
North America, 2013 Tornadoes
Oklahoma, Tornado Damage (2)
Missouri, Tornado Relief (2) 
Oklahoma, Tornado Relief (29)
Missouri, Tornado Damage
Kenya, Refugee Assistance
Illinois, Flood Damage
Colorado, Wildfires
Virginia, Windstorm Damage
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (2)
Lebanon, Refugee Medical Support
Minnesota, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Mauritania, Refugee Assistance
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (3)
Texas, Church Theft/Vandalism
Chicago, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Illinois, Flood Damage (2)

Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation 2013

Syria, Refugee Assistance
Texas, Support of Long-Term Recovery Work for Hurricane Sandy Relief
Hurricane Isaac and US Summer Storms 2012 Assistance
Florida, Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers
Lafayette, Indiana Growing Project, Foods Resource Bank
Balkans, Peacebuilding and Development
Chad, Sustainable Recovery
Mississippi, Solidarity Grant
Haiti, Trauma Recovery
Haiti, Recovery and Long-Term Development
Haiti, CONASPEH Projects
Indiana, Greater Indianapolis Disciples Area Association Habitat Team
West Africa, Food Security
New York, Poverty Reduction
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Women’s Income Generation Project
Bolivia, Empowering Guarani Youth
Georgia, Vocational and Educational Opportunities for Youth
Uganda, Karamoja Education and Youth Empowerment
Serbia, Roma Women’s Empowerment
Georgia, Children and Youth Development
Kenya, School Safe Zone
Vietnam, Cleaner Villages
Ghana, Environmental Climate Change
Swaziland, Food Security
Ghana, Domestic and Gender Based Violence
South Africa, Girl's Empowerment
Ecuador, Community Development
Sierra Leone, Enhancing Welfare for Children
Middle East, Muslim/Christian Dialogue
Laos, Community Development
Tanzania, Combatting Burkitts Lymphoma
Palestine, Peacebuilding
Cambodia, Food Security
Honduras, Food Security
Nicaragua, Food Security
Uganda, Food Security
Timor, Food Security

Free Event at General Assembly! Children Welcome!

If you are attending the General Assembly in Orlando, we hope to see you!  On Sunday morning, you and your family are invited to join us at Pershing Avenue Christian Church at 8:30a.m. for our worship service celebration. Children are welcome to attend, as worship will include a children's sermon and childcare will be provided. 

Our preachers for the morning are very special guests: 

Lorenzo Mota King, Foods Resource Bank, from the Dominican Republic

Samantha Nicodemus, South Joplin Christian Church, from Joplin, Missouri

Vy Nguyen, Church World Service, from California

Abdel Direny, IMA World Health, from Haiti

Moo Kho Paw, Prosperity Candle, from Burma

Our friends at Green Chalice and Equal Exchange are also partnering with us to host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour with delicious fair trade coffee and tea from our very own Disciples Coffee Project.

Pershing Avenue Christian Church is located on 2000 E. Pershing Ave in Orlando. Shuttle buses will arrive at the West Concourse between Lobbies D-F of the convention center at 7:00 AM and depart for Pershing Avenue at 7:15am.  Buses will return attendees to the convention center at 10:15 and 10:45, following the Coffee Hour, providing options for attendees who want to return to the convention center for Assembly Sunday School or Meals. 

This event is free but the ordering of tickets is required (However, actual tickets will NOT be issued, we just need a count of attendees through this system). Tickets are available through the General Assembly website's online registration feature. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office, weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or (317) 713-2442.  

We are looking forward to connecting with all of you joining us at Assembly.  Thanks be to the God who calls us to put our Compassion into Action!

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (3)
Texas, Church Theft/Vandalism

 

Week of Compassion at the 2013 General Assembly

Week of Compassion at the 2013 General Assembly

As we prepare for the 2013 General Assembly, the Week of Compassion staff invites you to celebrate, learn, and partner with us during our time in Orlando.  We are looking forward to connecting with you!

Join Us for Our Worship Celebration on Sunday Morning

On Sunday Morning, you and your family are invited to join us at Pershing Avenue Christian Church at 8:30 AM for our worship service celebration. We will give thanks for the ways your offerings enable Week of Compassion to support partners from all over the world to live into Christ's compassion for the vulnerable, the hurting, and the otherwise forgotten.  We will hear incredible stories from our partners as they lift up the ways we are able to share our resources and transform lives through disaster response, refugee resettlement, and sustainable development.  Children are welcome to attend, as worship will include a children's sermon and childcare will be provided.

Our friends at Green Chalice and Equal Exchange are also partnering with us to host a Fair Trade Coffee Hour with delicious fair trade coffee and tea from our very own Disciples Coffee Project.

Pershing Avenue Christian Church is located on 2000 Pershing Ave in Orlando. Shuttle buses will arrive at Concourse C of the convention center at 7:00 AM and depart for Pershing Avenue at 7:15am.  Buses will return attendees to the convention center at 10:15 and 10:45, following the Coffee Hour, providing options for attendees who want to return to the convention center for Assembly Sunday School or Meals.

This event is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available through the General Assembly website's online registration feature. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office,  weekofcompassion@woc.disciples.org or (317) 713-2442. 

Pastors in Disasters Aftersession - Learn More about Our Forthcoming Book! 

Join Amy, Brandon, Johnny, Director of Disciples Volunteering Josh Baird, and other contributors to discuss the upcoming Chalice Press title, Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness and Response tools for Congregations at 9 PM on Monday, July 15th in Room W221E in the Convention Center for the "Pastors in Disasters" Aftersession.  Moderated by Chalice Press Publisher Brad Lyons, this workshop will focus on the experiences of church leaders who have experienced natural and human caused disasters, and highlight many of the helpful tools that will be available in Help and Hope.

Purchase a Brand New, Tailored-Designed Week of Compassion Stole! 

WomenSpirit will be unveiling its new Week of Compassion-inspired stole at General Assembly!  We are thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with WomenSpirit and AbidingSpirit. The new rising sun design symbolizes the hope and resurrection Week of Compassion brings to people in times of disaster, deep need and distress. The design is hand-stamped in two colors on a textured, off-white linen creating an elegant, artistic effect.  Proceeds from the purchase of these vestments benefit WoC's Women's Empowerment Fund. Information will be available at the Week of Compassion booth at Assembly and at the WomenSpirit booth.  Be sure to check out this great way to put your Compassion into Action as you preach or lead worship throughout the year.  They also make great gifts! 

Come Visit the Booth!

You can spend time chatting with the staff of Week of Compassion, members of our advisory committee and other volunteers, as well as representatives from some of our amazing partners, including Foods Resource Bank, IMA World Health, Equal Exchange, Bread for the World, and Church World Service.  There are many great opportunities to put your Compassion into Action.  Come explore the ones that might be a great fit for your gifts and interests!

Walk in the CROP Hunger Walk!

Church World Service, WoC's primary partner organization, is organizing a CROP Hunger Walk at General Assembly.  The Walk will take place on Tuesday, July 16th at 9:00 a.m.

Walkers may register online at:  www.crophungerwalk.org/orlandofl

You may also pick up walker sponsor envelopes at our booth in the Exhibit Hall or at or WoC worship service. 

We are looking forward to connecting with all of you joining us at Assembly.  Thanks be to the God who calls us to put our Compassion into Action!

This Week's Responses:

Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance:
Virginia, Windstorm Damage
New York, Hurricane Sandy Damage (2)
Lebanon, Refugee Medical Support
Minnesota, Emergency Refugee Assistance
Mauritania, Refugee Assistance
Development and Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation:
Cambodia, Food Security
Honduras, Food Security
Nicaragua, Food Security
Uganda, Food Security
Timor, Food Security