Katrina Networking

I am using my networking and marketing skills to pass along vital information to organizations, volunteers and survivors of the 2005 hurricane season. Grants, networking, advocating, assistance resources, articles and more. Updated regularly to better assist you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

MS United Methodist Katrina Response

Our GoalsRestore persons to safe, permanent homes as soon as possible. Whose homes?
Be attentive to and, where possible, address spiritual, emotional, and other needs of these persons.
Affirm, encourage, and offer support to local churches in the recovery effort.
Organize and deploy volunteers to maximize recovery to extend beyond what congregations can accomplish on their own. How to volunteer
Partner with other organizations where possible to enhance efforts.

Tell the story - keep people abreast of the amazing work being done by local churches and United Methodist volunteers.
Help us archive the incredible story of Miss. United Methodist Katrina recovery
Thousands of United Methodists have come to help heal hearts and homes in Mississippi. It is a beautiful story of hope; a testament to being the church Christ called us to be. We want to remember the many acts of encouragement and hope and share them with generations to come. Many of you have or will take photos and DVDs of your time volunteering in our communities. We are asking you to share those and your testimonials with us. Be sure to identify the who, what, when and where for each photo and testimonial. E-mail to lisacmichiels@bellsouth.net or mail to Seashore District UMC, Attn. Lisa, 1509 24th Avenue, Gulfport, MS 39501. Photos should be e-mailed as jpeg files.

A note from Robert
What compels us to be in ministry to others? Is it because we want to be or because someone compels us to be? What is the church? What does the church do? How is the church to react to others in need? Who is the church?

I think more than 50,000 United Methodist Volunteers in Mission have found the answer to most of these questions. As they have come and given of their time and money they have found that we all are the church. Christ compels us to be in ministry and to meet the needs of others here on this earth.

This disaster called Katrina has given the church a great opportunity to be just that: the CHURCH. As Mother Teresa has said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” To all these wonderful people who have begun, please give them thanks when you see them. The people of the coast would be years behind in recovery if not for them. God bless our volunteers!

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. - John Wesley

Tu hermano en Cristo,

Robert Sharp of Ocean Springs is coordinator of the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.

After much frustration, we finally got our permit to construct our second multi-purpose building at Nugent UMC, Gulfport. Our first building at Vancleave UMC in Jackson County is moving along nicely. We will move into the warehouse portion of that building this month, which will allow us to close down the rented warehouse in Wiggins. We still have work to do to complete the dormitory portion of the Vancleave building.
Like almost everything down here, these buildings have taken longer to construct and cost more than anticipated. And, we still have some fundraising ahead of us to complete them. They are being constructed with what Mark Twain called "tainted money," i.e. money that "t'aint yours and t'aint mine."
All of the funds to construct these buildings have come from a special grant from UMCOR and donations from churches and individuals. Not one penny of the dollars designated to help families recover from Katrina will be used in their construction. We are now prepared in the eastern area of the Coast to sustain a long-term recovery effort and at the same time are positioned well to respond to future hurricanes.
I recently finished reading a series of articles in The Gazette, the newspaper of Medina County, Ohio. It is about the efforts of the Medina UMC to help the people of Pearlington, Miss. The series is titled "A Prayer for Pearlington." These stories reminded me of my first visit to Pearlington after Katrina struck, which I talked about in our April 7, 2006, e-mail update. They also just reinforced one more time the goodness of people who have come and continue to come to help us in our recovery and the spirit and courage of those who have lost so much.
I have been truly blessed by my association during these many months with simply wonderful and special people - volunteers, victims, clergy and staff in our United Methodist Church, and certainly the members of our Mississippi Katrina Response team. I have gained many friends and have been inspired by many people during this time.
As Dinah Haakenson penned:
You are my Friend.
A priceless gift I treasure,
A blessing without measure.
You've given me laughter, love, and caring,
Your moments, your hours, freely sharing.
You've given me memories, joy that won't end,
You've given me you; you are my friend.

Thank you, my friends, for what you have all meant to me and to Mississippi. - Ed BlakesleeBlakeslee is coordinator of the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.
Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response Update March 3, 2006

Notes from Ed

Thank you for responding to our request last week for construction facilitators. We now have some candidates to interview for these jobs.

We continue to need donations of building materials (sheetrock, shingles, etc.) and equipment to handle the materials.

We have access this year to several warehouses/buildings that we can use (including the one at Heritage UMC mentioned below), but we still need to move ahead swiftly to construct the multi-purpose buildings mentioned in the Feb. 17 update.

In the Feb. 17 update, we also told you about withdrawing from Katrina Aid Today funding but that we anticipated additional contributions from United Methodists across the country would offset these dollars. Well, God has provided. We anticipate that in early April, UMCOR’s Board of Directors will increase our funding for this year from $2.6 million to almost $3 million. Most of these dollars will be used to fund case management staff beyond the four regions we have set up in the south.

We have employed Margaret DiSalvo to supervise these case management people and to provide technical assistance to case management staff in our four regions. Margaret was performing case management for FEMA on the cruise ship in Pascagoula before coming on board with us.

All of the dollars we are spending in the conference organization are provided through UMCOR. Cash donations from volunteer work teams remain with the local churches to help pay for housing volunteers and to provide some materials for reconstruction.

Beginning with Hurricane Betsy through Katrina, I worked six hurricanes for Mississippi Power Company. We made mistakes in each one and learned from each one. Our church has made mistakes in this effort, and we will make some more before we are through. I am convinced that no one was prepared for a disaster of this magnitude and that we are plowing new ground. But, we will learn from these experiences and be much better prepared for the next disaster.
- Ed Blakeslee

Ed Blakeslee of Gulfport is coordinator of the Mississippi United Methodist Katrina Response.

As noted in last week’s update we have installed two showers at St. Mark’s UMC in Gulfport so that volunteers do not have to drive 20 minutes to Gateway UMC on the north side of Gulfport to take a shower. This week volunteers have installed two more showers at Gateway, so that we now have four showers there.

From the Feb 17 update:
Volunteers: DRC
The Disaster Response Center in Meridian seeks volunteers who can work one day or half a day a week on a continuing basis. “We have been really fortunate to have a handful of regular locals and several teams from out of state who have come for two weeks at a time, but we could use more Mississippi people who can give a day or a morning continuously,” said Chris Bowers, conference logistics coordinator. Tasks include answering calls and doing clerical work. For more info about volunteering at the DRC, contact Bowers at 866-435-7091.

Other Needs
Church recovery needs…
* Architects willing to help churches with rebuilding or expansion plans
* Certified land surveyors
* Certified electricians to help meet code specs
Contact Chris at cumbestc@bellsouth.net or 601-826-7728.

From Emailing Chris, I have found out the there is a prioritization of houses they are working to restore/rebuild.

The homes highest on the list are:
Those of single parents
Large families with financial difficulties

All of these must own their own home, own only one home and have little or no other assistance in rebuilding.

Unfortunately, this is a large number of families.

Talking to Ben Moore who was at the Main St UMC in Bay St Louis, they had a list of over 400 homes and more being brougth to their attention daily. So this is no small feat.

The churches themselves are in need since they were collectively underinsured by approximately $4million.

If you would like to assist in any of these areas, please use the above contact numbers or:
Contact the Mississippi Conference Disaster Response Center toll-free at 1.866.435.7091
to schedule a work team or send a gift to help with hurricane recovery.

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