Children’s Disaster Services Works in Oklahoma

Photo by Julie Heisey
Children in a CDS center work together to play rebuilding a house following the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., last year. The centers provided by Children’s Disaster Services not only care for children while their parents seek help to rebuild their lives following disasters, but also guide children to engage in play that helps them regain their emotional health in disaster situations.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) on Tuesday, Aug. 7, opened a child care center in Glencoe, Okla., to aid families affected by fires. The center is located at the Methodist Church where the American Red Cross has a Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC). CDS volunteers will care for children while their parents apply for aid to help them put their lives back together.

CDS is a part of Brethren Disaster Ministries and places trained and certified volunteer teams in disaster areas to help care for children and families, in partnership with FEMA and the American Red Cross.

Wildfires in Oklahoma have destroyed at least 121 homes, said an e-mail report from CDS associate director Judy Bezon. “There are fires in eight counties and the weather forecast for next week is for 10 -20 mile-per-hour winds, temperatures from 95 to 100 degrees, and continued drought conditions, making it difficult to for firefighters to contain the fires,” she wrote.

Myrna Jones, the CDS representative to Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) has been participating in daily conference calls that review the disaster, the response, and the needs of survivors.

Two Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARC) sponsored by the American Red Cross are opening in Oklahoma this week, one on Tuesday in Glencoe, the other on on Wednesday or Thursday in Payne County. Agencies that offer aid to disaster survivors will have space at the MARC to offer their services.

“In past responses, the MARC have been our busiest sites,” Bezon noted. “Both parents and agency volunteers were grateful for our presence, as having children safely in the CDS center freed them to concentrate on the application process without needing to tend to children’s needs.”

A CDS workshop held last November has resulted in enough certified volunteers in northeastern Oklahoma to support this response. The volunteers live locally and will drive in on a daily basis and return home at night, giving more volunteers a chance to serve and saving on transportation and housing costs. The CDS response in Oklahoma is funded by a $5,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

CDS training for volunteers

In more news from Children’s Disaster Services, the program has scheduled a series of workshops this fall at which prospective volunteers may receive the required training. CDS training events are planned for

– Sept. 7-8 at Johnson City (Texas) United Methodist Church

– Oct. 5-6 at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren

– Oct. 5-6 at New Hope Christian Church in Oklahoma City, Okla.

– Oct. 12-13 at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich.

– Oct. 27-28 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla.

– Nov. 2-3 at Highland Christian Church in Denver, Colo.

For more information about the training events and requirements for becoming a CDS volunteer, visit . Find out more about Children’s Disaster Services at and see photos from recent CDS work at (click for CDS and BDM albums). Give to the disaster work of the Church of the Brethren through donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .