Brethren Disaster Ministries executive travels to Puerto Rico, Children’s Disaster Services sends teams to northern California

Church of the Brethren Newsline
October 13, 2017

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!’” (Lamentations 3:55-56). 

“At the mercy of the wind.” This photo was taken by Pat Krabacher, in a church in Napa, where she and other Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers are serving children and families affected by the wildfires in northern California.

Roy Winter is on a trip to Puerto Rico this week to assess needs following Hurricane Maria and to meet with Church of the Brethren leaders in Puerto Rico District. Winter is associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

In related news, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) continues a herculean effort to respond to the recent series of national disasters, sending two teams to northern California this week.

Material Resources staff are preparing a container of relief goods for Puerto Rico on Monday, Oct. 16, on behalf of Church World Service. Also in progress is a container of relief goods to send to the island on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced its first week of clean up and rebuilding in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey.

Puerto Rico

Winter departed for Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Oct. 11, with plans to return to the mainland US tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 14.

“Even before he left, Roy was only able to have had a few short phone calls with Jose [Puerto Rico District executive Jose Calleja Otero] because of the continued difficulty of calling from the island,” reported office manager Sharon Billings Franzén. “It was really important that Roy was able to travel with the district leaders to see the damage and the needs first-hand and to begin discussions on how BDM can partner with them in their recovery.”

The container being prepared for Puerto Rico on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries will carry generators, chain saws and tools, tarpaulins, gas cans, canned meat donated by Church of the Brethren districts, and other items still being collected. Franzén said the delay in shipping the container until after Winter returned from Puerto Rico was to ensure that the items included matched the needs on the island.

“The Puerto Rico container being loaded Monday is for Church World Service,” reported Material Resources director Loretta Wolf. “It contains 255 school kits, 22,500 hygiene kits, 1,800 tubes of toothpaste, 340 tarps, and a pallet of ball bungees for use with the tarps. It is scheduled to arrive in San Juan October 25,” she added.


Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced a “BDM Rebuild Texas Week” in Houston on Oct. 22-28, responding to destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey and the flooding. The week is a collaborative effort with International Orthodox Christian Charities.

Work will include preparing and cleaning homes for rebuilding; removing damaged drywall, insulation, and flooring; and removing personal possessions and appliances from damaged homes. St. George Orthodox Church in Houston is the host. Volunteers will pay their own travel expenses, but meals and tools are provided for volunteers. Volunteers should be prepared to work in hot summer temperatures, and should bring their own bedding and work clothing.

To volunteer, contact Terry Goodger in the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at 410-635-8730 or .

The CDS volunteers who are working in Napa, Calif. Photo courtesy of Pat Krabacher.


Children’s Disaster Services

Even as CDS continues to serve in Las Vegas following the mass shooting, this week CDS sent two teams of volunteers to Napa, Calif., to aid children and families affected by the wildfires north of San Francisco. Just this past weekend, the CDS response to Hurricane Harvey concluded when the last team of volunteers left Texas.

“This chain of disastrous events has been unprecedented for CDS/BDM!” said associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller.

The teams who traveled to Napa on Wednesday are working in a community college that is sheltering evacuees, Fry-Miller said. The CDS response there is at the request of the Red Cross.

CDS sent a third team of volunteers from the specially trained Critical Response Caregiving team to Las Vegas. The new team will replace the previous two teams, who had been serving in a Family Assistance Center. The Las Vegas response is at the request of the Red Cross. Since 1997, Critical Response Caregiving has responded to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 8 aviation incidents, 1 train incident, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.

For more about Brethren Disaster Ministries go to . For more about Children’s Disaster Services go to . To support this disaster relief work, give to the Emergency Disaster Fund at .

Contributors to this Newsline include Pat Krabacher, Sharon Billings Franzén, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Terry Goodger, Loretta Wolf, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor at .

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