Emergency Disaster Fund Gives $162,800 in Ten Grants

The Emergency Disaster Fund, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren General Board, has given ten grants totaling $162,800, for disaster relief in the US, Kenya, Liberia, and Guatemala.

For an article on shipments to schools affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes, originating at the Brethren Service Center, see below. Church World Service has distributed grants totaling $599,095 to 13 schools in Mississippi and Louisiana, and in addition has sent material assistance valued at $110,170 including 7,830 Gift of the Heart Kits, 1,500 blankets, and 5 recreation boxes.

An allocation of $40,000 was given in response to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for a prolonged drought in Kenya. An estimated 2.5 million people are affected. The funds will help provide food distribution, water for people and animals, restocking livestock, and seeds for the next crop season.

An additional allocation of $35,000 supports the continuing Brethren Disaster Response project for hurricane recovery in the state of Florida, which began in 2004. The project continues in Pensacola and is projected to take several more years. Previous allocations to this project total $80,000.

A grant of $30,000 supports Brethren Disaster Response project in Mississippi as part of the continuing work following Hurricane Katrina. Multiple project sites are anticipated. These funds will provide feeding, housing, transporting, and support for Brethren volunteers who travel to this project.

The sum of $20,000 supports a CWS appeal responding to the Liberian civil war that has left 500,000 people displaced. The money will help with basic rehabilitation activities needed for the resettlement of the population including food and non-food items, reconstruction of shelters, agriculture recovery, water and sanitation, health assistance, psychosocial support, and peace and reconciliation activities.

An additional allocation of $13,800 continues emergency response work after landslides and floods in Guatemala. An initial grant of $7,000 was given to provide emergency food. The new funds will help rebuild an important bridge needed for an affected community to transport coffee beans to market, and purchase an additional three-month supply of corn. The distribution and work related to the grant is being handled and directed through Brethren Volunteer Service worker Rebecca Allen and the General Board’s Latin America specialist Tom Benevento.

A grant of $9,000 covers the balance of expenses for a Brethren Disaster Response project in Alabama, which has been closed. The project did clean-up work following Hurricane Katrina.

A grant of $7,200 covers the balance of expenses for a Brethren Disaster Response project in Lake Charles, La., which has been closed. The project did clean-up work following Hurricane Rita.

An additional allocation of $3,000 continues support of a CWS appeal in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. The money will provide small “seed grants” to local organizations and will help the longterm recovery committee begin the work of case management.

A grant of $3,000 responds to a CWS appeal after wildfires in Texas and Oklahoma destroyed more than 500 homes and damaged another 1,200. The funds will provide small grants to longterm recovery work, and be used to help complete needs assessments, case management, and efforts at reconstruction.

A grant of $1,800 covers the balance of expenses for Disaster Child Care volunteers and other volunteers working in southern Florida after Hurricane Wilma. This response has been completed.

For more information about the Church of the Brethren General Board’s Emergency Response and Service Ministries, go to www.brethren.org/genbd/ersm/DisasterResponse.htm.



Church World Service (CWS) is distributing grants totaling $599,095 to 13 schools in Mississippi and Louisiana badly damaged by last year’s devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In addition to the funds, CWS also sent material assistance valued at $110,170 to the schools, including 7,830 “Gift of the Heart” Kits (school and health), 1,500 blankets, and 5 recreation boxes donated by UNICEF.

The material aid was sent from the Service Ministries warehouses at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The grant program was made possible by a generous donation from Diakonie Emergency Aid, a German faith-based humanitarian aid agency. Recipient schools will use the funds to purchase student/teacher supplies, computers, audio/visual equipment, books, musical equipment, and furniture. The 13 schools currently have 15,673 students and 1,839 teachers.

The school recipients are: Martin Behrman Elementary (Algiers Charter Schools) in New Orleans; Forked Island/E. Broussard Elementary in Abbeville, La.; East Hancock Elementary in Kiln, Miss.; Franklin Elementary in New Orleans; Gulfview Elementary in Kiln; Hancock High School in Kiln; McMain High School in New Orleans; Orange Grove Elementary in Gulfport, Miss.; Pascagoula (Miss.) School District; Resurrection Middle High School in Pascagoula; St. Thomas Elementary in Long Beach, Miss.; Watkins Elementary in Lake Charles, La.; and Westwood Elementary in Westlake, La.

“Although this has been an exciting and rewarding opportunity to be able to administer this grant program, the sad reality is that out of the 200 schools that were identified, the destruction was so bad that only 13 were able to apply for this program,” said CWS Disaster Response and Recovery liaison Lesli Remaly, who served as coordinator of the grant application process. “They’re just not ready.” As of Jan. 1, still only a handful of the 123 schools in New Orleans are in operation, CWS said. Throughout the Gulf Coast, many schools are functioning in partially damaged buildings or in temporary spaces trying to accommodate as many students as possible.

“Most of the students who attend our school are on the free or reduced lunch program, which means they come from households earning around $16,000 or less per year,” said Michelle Lewis, Human Resource manager for Algiers Charter Schools of New Orleans. Lewis also explained that many of the students recently returned to the area after attending well-equipped schools unaffected by the hurricanes in other parts of the country, mainly Texas.

At Orange Grove Elementary in Gulfport, where CWS sent 540 school kits, 500 blankets, and $26,200, 90 percent of the students come from low-income families. “The students were so excited to see all these boxes stacked up like a pyramid, they couldn’t wait to see what was inside,” said Stephanie Schepens, a teacher at the school. Schepens explained that many of the children are in homes with mold conditions and in need of extensive repairs. Some are waiting for FEMA temporary housing trailers; some have already been denied. “To see things new and shiny means so much to them,” Schepens said. “The school supplies and blankets were like a Christmas some of them never had.”

In the Spring, CWS staff will visit several of the schools to meet with teachers and students, highlight the schools’ progress, and bring attention to further needs and challenges facing them as they move forward on the road to recovery.

(This article was excerpted from a Church World Service press release.)


The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Jon Kobel contributed to this report. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail write to cobnews@aol.com or call 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Submit news to cobnews@aol.com. For more news and features, subscribe to Messenger magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


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