Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering with BDM
How do I sign up?
- Contact either your District Disaster Coordinator (your Church of the Brethren district office can refer you), or the Brethren Disaster Ministries office to select a project location and date.
- Fill out the required Volunteer Registration form and Assumption of Risk Agreement and Release form (pg. 2 of the Volunteer Registration form). Parents of minors must also sign the Authorization of Consent to Emergency Care of Minor form.
- Read the Volunteer Handbook before you go.
- Report to the disaster project as instructed, ready to roll up your sleeves and make a difference!
Are there any age requirements?
Yes. The minimum age is 15 years (14 if accompanied by a parent). Youth groups must include an appropriate ratio of 1 adult advisor for every 4 youth of each gender. A signed Authorization of Consent to Emergency Care of Minor form and an Assumption of Risk Agreement and Release form are required. See the Policy on Minors as Volunteers for more details.
What is the time commitment?
Generally, volunteers serve one week for most projects, arriving on Sunday, working Monday-Friday, and traveling home on Saturday.
Is there any cost to volunteering?
Many Church of the Brethren districts and congregations often cover the expense of travel to the project for church members. If not, volunteers need to cover their own travel. Brethren Disaster Ministries provides housing and meals free of charge. See our fundraising page for ideas on raising funds for volunteer travel. BDM volunteers can now get a discount on car rental when traveling to and from BDM projects. Contact us for more information.
Do I need to be a member of the Church of the Brethren to volunteer?
No. People of any faith tradition are welcome to participate.
How can I help even if I can't go on project?
Offer to assist with chores, gardening, pet care, or other responsibilities for someone else who can go. Hold a fund raiser to help with travel costs for the volunteers going to the project, or raise funds for the Emergency Disaster Fund.
What type of work will I be doing?
There is normally a variety of home repair activities that depend upon the type of disaster, stage of recovery, and current needs.
What do I need to bring with me?
Click on the link for a complete list of What to Pack for Your Volunteer Week.
Do I have to bring my own tools?
No. BDM provides a tool trailer on site, well stocked with hand and power tools for all types of home repair and construction. View pictorial lists of the various Tool Kits and other Trailer Tools to help determine what additional tools you might wish to bring with you. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own hardhat, eye protection and work gloves; however, these will be provided for those who do not have any. Volunteers are notified if they need to bring any particular tools.
What size group can I bring?
Our average capacity is about 15 volunteers. This varies from project to project, so please check with your District Disaster Coordinator or the BDM office to see if your group can be accommodated.
Do I need to have construction skills?
No. Unskilled volunteers, male or female, with a willingness to learn are invited to work alongside those who are skilled.
Is there any other kind of help needed besides construction?
Yes. Cooks or assistant cooks, assistant household managers, "go-fer" people to run errands, etc. are sometimes needed to help keep the project running smoothly.
Is there any special training?
Most disaster response volunteers are not required to receive special training. Brethren Disaster Ministries trains certain volunteers to serve as disaster project leaders, who manage the day-to-day project operations, including construction management, household management and cooking.
What if I get hurt or sick on the job?
Brethren Disaster Ministries makes sure that our project leaders know where to get medical help. BDM works very hard at teaching and practicing standard safety procedures. BDM does not carry medical insurance for volunteers. Volunteers are expected to have their own medical insurance coverage.
I have certain dietary restrictions. Can I still go?
Yes. Our cooks are carefully trained and instructed to accommodate volunteers who have certain dietary needs.