Brethren Disaster Ministries Trains Project Leaders for 2013

Photo by Hallie Pilcher
During an April 2013 training, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff Zach Wolgemuth (second from right) introduces new project leaders to a BDM tool trailer. The new project leaders must serve for a month at a home repair and rebuilding site under the supervision of an experienced project leader before officially becoming project leaders themselves.

On April 23, I traveled to Prattsville, N.Y., to undergo training to become a Disaster Project Leader. Disaster Project Leaders are wonderful men and women called to lead and guide volunteers who come out to Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding sites for a week. I was very excited to learn all that happened behind the scenes to keep the project sites running.

Upon arrival, I met the nine other volunteers who would be training with me: Adam Braun, Judy Braune, Sandy Bruens, Joel Conrad, Marilyn Ebaugh, Alan Miller, Karen and Eddie Meyerhoeffer, and Ruth Warfield. They came from all over the US and had volunteered with Brethren Disaster Ministries many times. We all bonded right away, sharing stories of our past disaster response trips.

Our sessions were led by Zach Wolgemuth, Tim Sheaffer, and John and Mary Mueller. Sessions included volunteer management, household management, construction management, record keeping, and more. We even had Tim Smail, a guest speaker from FLASH (Florida Alliance for Safe Housing), come and tell us about building homes for wind mitigation.

Afternoons were spent learning how to cook for large groups and for many different dietary needs, and learning how to teach and lead several different aspects of construction. We focused on how to keep volunteers safe and how to build safe housing for homeowners. We learned from the leaders as well as the other trainees as we tried new things like cooking vegan food or using a break to bend flashing.

By the end of the 10-day training we had become a family, and it was hard to say goodbye. We parted ways excited to see each other again someday out on the work sites. Each of us must now complete one month on a rebuilding project site under the training of an experienced project leader, before we will officially become project leaders ourselves.

— Hallie Pilcher works at the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md., through Brethren Volunteer Service.

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