By Jenn Dorsch Messler
All Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding sites are currently suspended for weekly volunteers. Here are the details on these schedule changes based on the COVID-19 environment:
The reopening date of the Brethren Disaster Ministries site in the Carolinas has been suspended until June 7, but discussions are ongoing with local partners in case there need to be further changes. That site was previously planned to be completed and close on Aug. 1.
The remaining volunteers scheduled for the Puerto Rico rebuilding site have been cancelled through May 23. These were the last volunteers scheduled for Puerto Rico because the volunteer side of the project was already set to finish on that date. Brethren Disaster Ministries is still supporting some families by providing materials so that they are now able to complete the work themselves as they are staying home. Other cases will continue to have support from Brethren Disaster Ministries through local contractors completing the rebuilding work.
As was previously planned, the Tampa, Fla., site has closed and the location of Project 2 is scheduled to move to Dayton, Ohio, for tornado recovery. Brethren Disaster Ministries is projecting that the move and set up for construction work can take place at the end of June for a mid-July opening date. However, volunteers serving in the month of July on that site must be Ohio residents who can commute easily to the project location daily and stay at their homes at night. If possible, the usual schedule for volunteers will begin in August. More details will be available in the coming weeks for local Ohio residents to sign up to help as possible.
All dates named for these project sites are subject to change depending on CDC guidance, restrictions from officials in the project site areas and states, and local partners in those areas being willing to accept volunteers. We are in close contact with those partners while monitoring when it will be acceptable to send volunteers without imposing any health concerns for our volunteers, the host community, and most importantly the homeowners. If any further extension of these dates is needed in the coming weeks or months, it will be announced first with the volunteer groups and leaders on the schedule, and then publicly.