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Relief agency executive offers tips for disaster response

 


Relief agency executive offers tips for disaster response

Sept. 22, 2005

By United Methodist News Service

People of faith can respond in many ways to provide healing and support in the face of devastating hurricanes and other disasters, according to a United Methodist relief official.

The Rev. Tom Hazelwood, disaster response executive for the United Methodist Committee on Relief, shared five tips for responding to such disasters during an interview with the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications.

"The most important thing people can do is support UMCOR financially," Hazelwood said. The relief agency provides a long-term response to needs resulting from such disasters, and the money raised will be used by UMCOR for years to come.

"Second of all, people can give appropriate material resources," Hazelwood said. In most disasters, UMCOR asks for specific items, usually flood buckets and health kits, and the agency will make other needs known as they arise.

Giving material support doesn’t mean cleaning out your closets or garage and sending those items, he said. "That’s not appropriate giving."

Third, people can pray – pray for those affected by the storm and for those who respond to the disaster. "That’s an important resource," Hazelwood said.

Fourth, people can volunteer to help with the recovery. "We need more people to contact Volunteers In Mission" through their annual conference or other means, he said. People can create a team or join one that is already planning to work in the disaster area.

Finally, Hazelwood encourages people to seek support for relief at their place of work. "Encourage your business or wherever you work to support UMCOR and the work that we do."

Hazelwood and other relief workers met with Hollon and the Rev. Randy Day, top executive of the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries, in early September. Visiting Louisiana and Mississippi, Hollon also spoke with the Rev. Mary Gaudreau, director of care ministries for United Methodist Disaster Response in the Oklahoma Annual (regional) Conference.

Gaudreau, deployed to Mississippi by UMCOR, emphasized the importance of realizing that God is working through the community of faith.

"My experience with disaster is … we allow God to be God, and incredible things happen," she said. "Wondrous things happen in terms of coincidences that aren’t really coincidences. We see prayers that are answered."

Information on supporting UMCOR through giving, assembling material resources or volunteering is available online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/info.stm. Go to the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page and click on your area of interest.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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