Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brethren Disaster Ministries calls for more volunteers this spring.

"We have an urgent need for volunteers for multiple weeks this spring!" announced Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator Jane Yount in an update on disaster rebuilding projects across the US.

The program currently has three active project sites in Chalmette, La.; Winamac, Ind.; and Hammond, Ind. Also, Brethren Disaster Ministries is cooperating in an ecumenical build in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in April.

Since Jan. 2007, Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have repaired more than 150 homes in St. Bernard Parish, the project site in Chalmette, La. The project is continuing the process of rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina. "After four and a half long years, thousands of Katrina survivors are still waiting," the update said. "Ever so gradually, Brethren Disaster Ministries is helping to restore Chalmette and other communities in St. Bernard Parish." The project site is in an area where Hurricane Katrina caused levee failures that inundated homes with 6-20 feet of water. Over 200 parish residents lost their lives, and every house was officially declared uninhabitable.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is returning to the Winamac area in Pulaski County, Ind., after a mid-winter hiatus to build another new home and repair three more homes damaged in a flood in 2008. The project will restart the week of March 14 and run at least through the end of May.

The Hammond area of northwest Indiana was hit with a devastating storm and flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ike in Sept. 2008. In the wake of the storm it was estimated that about 17,000 residences were affected. With hundreds of homes in this lower income area still in need of assistance, Brethren Disaster Ministries has been called upon by the local recovery agency to assist with repair and reconstruction needs.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is participating with other Church World Service (CWS) member denominations on an ecumenical "blitz build" in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for six weeks from April 11-May 22. Volunteers will repair homes damaged by severe floods that devastated eastern Iowa nearly two years ago. The Brethren are recruiting 10 volunteers per week for the effort. While most volunteers will come from Northern Plains District, volunteers from other areas are welcome.

For more information about volunteering this spring with Brethren Disaster Ministries, contact Jane Yount at 410-635-8730 or

Brethren Disaster Ministries also continues its work in Haiti, responding to the earthquake alongside Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren). "We're heartened by the tremendous response of the Brethren to the Haiti earthquake relief effort," Yount reported.

"The first Family Household Kits (for Haitian families affected by the earthquake) arrived at the Brethren Service Center here in New Windsor," Yount wrote. "Many, many Hygiene Kits and Baby Care Kits have also been pouring in. Generous giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund has enabled Brethren Disaster Ministries' response, including children's feeding programs, dry food distribution, temporary shelters, water purification buckets, and a medical team set to travel this month, and more.

"Thank you, and may God bless you for your compassionate response," Yount added.

In other disaster relief news, a grant for emergency food assistance has been given to the eastern Zinder region of Niger. The Church of the Brethren's Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and Emergency Disaster Fund each have provided $5,000. The emergency food assistance appeal was received from Nagarta, a non-governmental organization in Niger to which GFCF recently gave a grant of $10,000 for the construction of wells. The appeal was prompted by continuing drought and degradation of the ecosystem. Nagarta reports that even as modest gains are made in agricultural production, weak performance of subsistence agriculture requires extensive imports of food from international sources.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline

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