Newsline Special: Children’s Disaster Services responds in Texas
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Twelve volunteers with Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) traveled to San Antonio on Sunday, Aug. 27, to serve children and families in Red Cross shelters. The families are among those who were evacuated or voluntarily left the area of southeast Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey and the torrential rain that has caused severe flooding.
In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries will be working with Church World Service (CWS) to send clean-up buckets and other Gift of the Heart kits to the area. “We expect to support a long-term recovery through CWS and other local partners,” said associate executive director Roy Winter.
The general secretary’s office is sharing a prayer request for those “who have already been directly affected by Hurricane Harvey and its remnants.” The request, shared by e-mail with staff and denominational leaders, added a request to “please pray also for those in areas that have yet to realize the full effects of the storm. We are aware of several staff members who have family in the Houston area. Please include these family members in your prayers for safety in the hours ahead, and in the months ahead as they face the task in their homes and their communities of recovering from this devastating storm.”
Prayer also is requested for a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) project site, Casa de Esperanza, which is located in the affected area. The volunteer currently serving there began work at the project just a few weeks ago, in early August.
“We are working on getting more volunteers out, sending another 10 people this week,” reported CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. “We anticipate that this will be a large and lengthy CDS response.”
CDS is a part of Brethren Disaster Ministries, and since 1980 has been meeting the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural or human-caused disasters.
CDS was put on alert by the American Red Cross last week, as it became clear that Hurricane Harvey would pose a major threat. The first dozen volunteers were originally going to fly into Houston, but the airport was closed and they were re-routed.
How to help
Children’s Disaster Services is funded in part by gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund of the Church of the Brethren. To help support the CDS response, give at www.brethren.org/edf . Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund may also be made to support the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Church World Service to provide clean-up buckets and other Gift of the Heart kits to hurricane and flood survivors. Donations for that purpose also may be given at www.brethren.org/edf . Checks may be made out to EDF and sent to the Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are sharing this additional advice for how best to extend aid:
“Disaster survivors often have needs that take priority over donated clothing or food. Your response will have more impact if you check with the local experts and take time to focus on what is most needed. Cash is always preferred over material donations. Cash can purchase goods and services in disaster-stricken communities, boosting the local economy. Inappropriate donations create secondary disasters!
“For anyone interested in serving in the affected areas, please do not self-deploy and instead find an organization that is accepting volunteers and be in contact with them prior to making any travel arrangement. Contact the Brethren Disaster Ministries office for suggestions and information that is coming from local relief and recovery contacts.”
Call the Brethren Disaster Ministries office toll-free at 800-451-4407. To learn more about the work of CDS go to www.brethren.org/cds . To learn more about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/bdm .
Contributors to this Newsline Special include Jenn Dorsch, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Dan McFadden, Nancy Miner, Roy Winter, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Over the summer, Newsline has gone to an every-other-week schedule, with the next regularly scheduled issue planned for Aug. 31. Please continue to send news tips and submissions to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org .