Tuesday, November 8, 2016

{#GivingTuesday 2016} Disaster Response

Since The Advance will not be offering any matching funds for Giving Tuesday this year, the UMVIM, SEJ Staff and Board has come together and pledged $12,000 to be used as matching fund. So, on November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016, donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000. We believe our mission is big, and we also believe that we can't send trained, equipped volunteers into the field to show Christian Love in Action without the support of our community. 

This year, learn more from those who have personally experienced the impact of all UMVIM has to offer. We asked Virginia Long-Term Recovery Manager & UMVIM Coordinator Forrest White to share what UMVIM has meant to him:

How do volunteers help you carry out your mission with Virginia Disaster Recovery?

At the end of my e-mails I often include these words: Our challenge is big. But God is bigger! We’re in this together and, best of all, God is with us. It’s true. We are in this together. There is no small part to play on our team. Since Long-Term Recovery began in the Virginia Conference in June, we have seen Christian love in action (1 John 3:18) from the people who occupy the back row of the local church and those who occupy the highest positions in the Conference and every person in between. Who could forget the high school students from North Carolina who wanted to plant flowers in a survivor's yard, a symbol of hope, a reminder of God's love? Who could forget the children of from a Richmond UMC who traveled an hour one way to provide lunch for two work teams and took leftovers to survivors? Who could forget the young at heart folks from a half dozen James River District churches who say they're too old to climb up on a roof but lovingly prepared a feast to feed 100 on a July afternoon? Who could forget Bishop Cho, so close to retirement, scurrying up a ladder to encourage a roofing team, as those on the ground held our breath?                   

What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM, SEJ?

There simply is no comparison. Simply put, trained team leaders see the big picture. They understand that Christian Love in Action doesn't begin when a team walks on the work site and it doesn't end when a team walks off the work site. They understand that it's always about the people first, the project second. They understand the importance of good communication before, during, and after the actual mission experience. On a personal note, I had led about two dozen mission teams before I had the UMVIM TLT in 2007. I was a far more effective leader on the two dozen mission teams I led after the training.

Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers – we really like the one about Miss Patty.

I wish I’d never met Patty Bryant. I told her so, too. We met only because of her great loss. The tornado that ripped through Evergreen, Virginia, on February 24, somewhere around 3:30 p.m., took her home and her greenhouse. But it took so much more. Her daddy died in the storm. They didn’t find his body until after nightfall, three football fields away from where he sat watching an old TV Western as the storm jumped the railroad tracks and engulfed his home.

I asked Ms. Patty how she was doing, five months after her life changed forever. “I’m tired,” she said. “I’ve been trying to keep it together because of mama.” Her mama survived the storm, only because she wasn’t home. She was turning off of Highway 460, only a couple miles away, when the mighty winds uprooted a tree and slammed it into her car. The impact fractured her back. The rescue team cut her free from the wreckage. As for Ms. Patty? She wonders if she would still be alive if she hadn’t left for work about an hour earlier than usual that dark February day, about an hour before the storm hit.                                                     

Hope is rising on the ground the storm swept clean.                                                                        

In the final days of summer, volunteers from two Virginia United Methodist Churches dug the footers on the land where her house once stood. In the first days of fall, volunteers four Greensboro, N.C., churches put the concrete block foundation on the land where her house once stood. And so it has been, one team at a time, one day at a time, and so it will be until we turn the keys to a new house over to Ms. Patty. That day will come because ordinary people stepped up when our extraordinary God called and said, “Here I am, send me.”

On November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016, donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000. Please give generously to Advance #901875.

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