Church of the Brethren workcamps repair church buildings, homes in Puerto Rico

Church of the Brethren Newsline
November 21, 2017

Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers work to repair a roof in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Bill Gay.

Church of the Brethren volunteers have done repairs to church buildings and homes in Puerto Rico this month. The church buildings receiving repair are connected with Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera (Caimito Church of the Brethren) and some nearby homes. Two groups of volunteers, totaling seven people, assisted with the project which received support from Brethren Disaster Ministries

In related news, a container of relief goods and supplies for Puerto Rico has been prepared for shipment. However, “it has been a frustrating process” because of port delays and trucking challenges in Puerto Rico, reported Roy Winter, associate executive director for Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Workcamp at Caimito

The workcamps at Caimito Church and Community Center were organized by Shirley Baker, with Jeff Bruens, disaster project leader, providing construction leadership and other volunteers coming from churches in the continental US. These small but productive teams repaired the roof and ceiling at Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera, provided partial repairs to the Caimito Community Center that is affiliated with the church, repaired the Brethren House, and worked on two homes in the area.

With these repairs the Brethren House is now able to host volunteers, although it still does not have electricity. Additional work projects are being organized and planned for 2018, but details are not yet available.

Container of supplies

A 20-foot container of supplies left the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., today, Nov. 21, bound for Puerto Rico. The supplies were purchased and assembled weeks ago, but port delays in Puerto Rico, difficulty finding an available container, and the challenge of trucking supplies from the San Juan port to Bayamon Church of the Brethren delayed the shipment.

“The Puerto Rico Brethren have developed a distribution plan and are excited to receive these supplies, generators, canned chicken, water filters, and much more, valued at over $40,000,” Winter said. “The container also carries a complete set of construction tools to assist with home repair and rebuilding.”

A church-based response

Puerto Rico District, under the leadership of district executive José Otero, is organizing a church-based response to Hurricane Maria with support from Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and financial grants.

To date, more than $28,000 in grant funds have been sent to Puerto Rico District, some coming from special donations received by several districts of the Church of the Brethren, and some through the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). These funds are helping meet short-term and emergency needs for food, shelter, and supplies in the communities around each of the seven Churches of the Brethren in Puerto Rico.

The church boards of each of the seven congregations are assessing needs in their communities following the hurricanes, and providing case management. The assessments are scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1, leading to a detailed planning meeting between Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and district executive Otero. The Puerto Rico District board will meet Dec. 9 to further assist in response planning and approve a response budget for the next year.

— Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, contributed to this report. Find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries at . Contribute financially to the Puerto Rico hurricane response by giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

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