Brethren Disaster Ministries has been closely monitoring the rapidly changing information about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness that it causes. “We have been tracking where the virus has been reported with an eye toward making decisions regarding our rebuilding project sites and out of concern for our volunteers, leaders, host communities, and the clients in whose homes we work,” said an announcement today. “After considerable discussion and prayer, BDM has made the decision to temporarily suspend all volunteer travel to rebuilding sites.”
Two upcoming Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) trainings are being postponed and rescheduled to minimize non-essential travel for trainers and participants. Trainings scheduled for Lombard, Ill., and for Tulsa, Okla., this spring are rescheduled for this fall. Registered participants also may transfer to trainings scheduled for other locations this summer, or request a refund. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” said the CDS staff. “We feel the safety of participants and trainers is our priority at this time. We will continue to monitor and assess the emerging situation in the US with careful consideration for future events.”
Brethren Disaster Ministries announcement
-- Travel to the rebuilding project site in the Carolinas is suspended until April 18.
-- Travel to Puerto Rico is suspended until April 11.
-- Travel to Project 2 in Tampa, Fla., is suspended completely as that site was already scheduled to close on April 4. Brethren Disaster Ministries is working with its partners in Tampa to make sure that the work will be completed.
-- A new “Project 2" site was scheduled to open April 19 in a new location, but likely will be delayed. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are in conversation with local partners to determine when an opening may be possible in Dayton, Ohio, to support tornado recovery.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation and will make decisions regarding volunteer travel to project sites as these dates get closer,” said the announcement. “Volunteers who are scheduled to serve after mid-April will be contacted as soon as possible if the suspension is extended or an opening to Project 2 is determined.
“The difficult decision to suspend volunteer travel was made using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and state government authorities. We have also been in conversation with the partners with whom we work at our sites and who host our volunteers, as well as our VOAD partners, many of whom have also begun to limit or suspend volunteer activities.
“We understand that this will be a disappointment to those volunteers who were scheduled to work during this time. Please know that we share this disappointment in not being able to serve those whose homes desperately need repair as well as not being present among those vulnerable communities who are even more in need of the reassurance of God’s love at this time.
“However, it is out of concern for that very community and for our volunteers and leaders, that we have made this decision to reduce the chance of unwittingly spreading the coronavirus at the project sites or when volunteers return home to their families and communities. We also recognize that many of our clients, as well as many of our volunteers, are in 60-plus age range, which puts them at a higher risk of both contracting the virus and of becoming seriously ill if they do get it.”
Brethren Disaster Ministries requested prayer for the individuals and communities affected by the coronavirus, for those who are sick and their caregivers, and for those in faith-based, healthcare, private, and governmental organizations who are working on the front lines to respond to the coronavirus.
The announcement called on Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers to be aware of those within their own churches and communities who may need comfort or practical or spiritual assistance.
“It is our hope that, as leaders in your district, you will be in touch with organizers in your community and with state and local VOADs (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) to learn about ways that volunteers can serve locally to help those affected.”
For more about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/bdm .