Two Church of the Brethren funds announce year’s first grants

Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers hold a house blessing for Mary Sandra, whose home they worked to repair and rebuild. The home was completed this past December. Photo courtesy of BDM

The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Initiative Fund (GFI) have announced first grants for the year 2020.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed EDF grants to a rebuilding project in Florida following Hurricane Irma; new work of the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) under the direction of Church World Service (CWS); and flood relief in Kenya (for more about the Emergency Disaster Fund and Brethren Disaster Ministries go to and ).

The GFI grants support a corn- and bean-growing initiative of the Brethren in Venezuela and evaluation of an agriculture project in Haiti being supported through a grant from Growing Hope Globally (for more information go to ).

Hurricane Irma response in Tampa, Fla.

An EDF allocation of $39,000 establishes a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site in Tampa, Fla., for long-term recovery from damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Tampa Bay region had roughly 200 cases needing funding support from Long Term Recovery Groups and a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief to the Methodist Conference in Florida. Around 60 cases remain that must be completed before the grant deadline of April 2020. The new rebuilding project site will help complete these remaining cases. It is expected to be active from Jan. 12 through April 4. Volunteers will be housed at the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church in downtown Tampa, which has hosted individual volunteer groups regularly during the last two years and was the location of a recent Children’s Disaster Service training workshop. Brethren Disaster Ministries will help with repairs to the church and will make a monthly contribution to cover utilities and cleaning and paper supplies. The grant will finance the expenses of the entire rebuilding project throughout its expected duration, including tools, equipment, volunteer support (housing and meals), and leadership.

Disaster Recovery Support Initiative with CWS

An EDF allocation of $30,000 supports the work of DRSI as a new program of the Domestic Disaster Program of Church World Service. DRSI addresses the growing gap between when a disaster hits and when volunteers are deployed to support community-based long-term recovery. DRSI’s projected outcome is to develop capacity within the local community to lead a holistic recovery after a disaster, which will reduce the time between the event and the organization of a functioning, local Long-Term Recovery Group. Over the past two years the disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren, the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined forces to pioneer the DRSI in nine states and US territories. In 2018, an external evaluation of DRSI in the US Virgin Islands concluded that the model was effective and worth replicating elsewhere. The grant, combined with funding from other DRSI partners, will support the CWS staff, programming, and operations. Additional outside funding and partnerships are actively being pursued by CWS to cover ongoing expenses and program expansion. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff will continue to work with the other partner denominations in an advisory role with CWS.

Kenya flood relief

An EDF allocation of $25,000 supports CWS in its early recovery response following heavy rains in Kenya in November 2019. The rains resulted in flash flooding and river flooding throughout much of Kenya, with 31 of 47 counties affected. The flooding and mudslides caused extensive damage and destruction to homes, displacing at least 160,000 people, and destroyed livestock, farms, and other types of livelihood, and caused health crises for displaced families and livestock. The CWS response supports 2,000 households. The early response provided families with household supplies, food distributions, and tablets to make water safe for drinking. In the recovery phase CWS plans to provide material for home repairs, assist farmers and fishermen with tools and supplies, and implement a cash-for-work program to repair infrastructure and water sources while providing these households an income.

Venezuela corn and bean project

A GFI allocation of $10,310 supports a corn- and bean-growing initiative by Asociación Iglesia de Los Hermanos Venezuela (ASIGLEHV, the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela). A professionally trained agronomist, who is a church member, is serving as a consultant to this project. The total bean harvest will be distributed to families attending 30 churches. Half of the corn will be donated to the two churches closest to the farm for their distribution to members and neighbors, and the other half sold to support the overall ministry of the church in Venezuela. The grant will purchase seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, and will cover land and tractor rental and labor and transportation costs. Previous allocations to this project include a September 2017 grant of $6,650.

Haiti Growing Hope Globally evaluation

A GFI allocation of $3,960 covers the costs of an evaluation of an agriculture project being supported through a grant from Growing Hope Globally (GHG). The Soil Conservation and Income Generation Project being run by Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) was begun on April 1, 2018. The evaluation will be for the 2019-20 project year. Klebert Exceus, formerly the coordinator of the hurricane and earthquake responses in Haiti for Brethren Disaster Ministries, has carried out evaluations for the GFI in the past. The evaluation requires visiting more than 14 communities and sharing results with the National Committee of Eglise des Freres. Agronomists working on the project will be asked to travel with the evaluator.

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