“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″
(Oct. 3, 2008) — Children’s Disaster Services volunteers are continuing work in shelters in Texas, caring for children of families affected by Hurricane Ike. Currently, 19 trained and certified childcare volunteers are at work in two American Red Cross shelters: the Galveston Island Tent Shelter and a shelter in the Auchan area of Houston.
Three more volunteers are to arrive in Texas over the weekend to aid in the response. Since Sept. 15, Children’s Disaster Services has deployed at least 48 volunteers to American Red Cross shelters, responding to Hurricane Ike. These volunteers set up childcare areas within the shelters to provide children respite from the experience of evacuation and shelter housing.
As of Oct. 1, at least 950 child care contacts have been made during the response to Ike.
Children’s Disaster Services is part of the Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries, and is the oldest and largest nationwide organization specializing in children’s disaster related needs. It was established in 1980 (http://www.childrensdisasterservices.org/).
The program places teams of trained and certified volunteers in shelters and other centers where families receive aid following disasters, at the request of FEMA and the American Red Cross. Since it has been established, over 82,000 children have benefitted from the caring support offered by more than 2,700 trained volunteers. This includes more than 197 responses to the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. There are currently over 500 active, certified childcare volunteers in the program.
Lorna Grow is the project manager for the Children’s Disaster Services response in Texas, leading the team of 19 trained and certified volunteers. Judy Bezon is the director of Children’s Disaster Services. The program has its offices at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
The first teams of Children’s Disaster Services volunteers to respond to Hurricane Ike arrived in the Houston area on Sept. 15, numbering a total of 26 volunteers. Another 22 volunteers were rotated in to help with the response beginning on Sept. 21.
Among the shelters for Hurricane Ike evacuees where Children’s Disaster Services has worked was the George Brown Convention Center in Houston–which at one point sheltered more than 5,000 people–as well as the American Legion Hall in Anahuac, and a shelter at Memorial Baptist in Baytown.
This summer, Children’s Disaster Services also has responded to Hurricane Gustav, when childcare volunteers worked in four American Red Cross “super shelters” in Louisiana and Mississippi, and a rapid response team from Children’s Disaster Services helped the American Red Cross care for children and families following the Metrolink train wreck in California.
A Children’s Disaster Services Level I Training Workshop is currently being held at the American Red Cross in Everett, Wash. Another training workshop will be held on Oct. 10-11 at the Holiday Inn in Evansville, Ind.
The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.