Disaster Ministry Volunteer and Work Team Opportunities

Greetings from the SWC Disaster Ministry. I am looking forward to attending the Annual Meeting next month and meeting many members of our congregations across the SWC. In addition to assisting with the ALICE Webinar and helping to represent the Greater Phoenix UCC Justice Network, I will be available to meet with church leaders and attendees to discuss our Disaster Ministries. In May and over the months to come we have an opportunity to participate in the FEMA/VOAD National Mass Care Exercise (hosted by Arizona and including California, Nevada and New Mexico) and we are discussing organizing a work team or two to assist with disaster recovery in Texas or Florida. Opportunities to send work teams to Puerto Rico or Northern California will become available later in the year. 

Please see below brief descriptions of the National Mass Care Exercise (NMCE) and and the disaster work team opportunities. Contact me with your questions, to express interest or to set up a meeting in person or by phone/conference call. Phil Shea at 602-663-5065 or philipshea@justicestar.org .

Phil Shea

National Mass Care Exercise (20-24 May; You do not need to participate every day)

State, County and local agencies across the southwest along with many volunteer organizations (including Red Cross, Salvation Army, Churches, local corporations and businesses and others) will come together to practice a mass care scenario (an earthquake in California resulting in over 200,000 people leaving California for Arizona). Actual shelters, feeding stations and other services will be set up and manned to determine our capacity to stand up in the event of a mass care event. One of the shelters, kitchens, mobile showers and pet care facilities will be set up at Phil Shea's place of work at the Papago Military Reservation in Phoenix. There should be other opportunities to volunteer in Arizona and possibly New Mexico. 

Event Focus/Work: Pastors or Chaplains who would like to partner with a trained Disaster Spiritual Caregiver to learn about providing spiritual care in a disaster based on national spiritual care guidelines (great ecumenical opportunity); Cooks and assistant cooks; Shelter volunteers; Persons who would like to play the role of someone in the shelter to allow the staff from agencies to practice their skills in opening and running the shelter. More opportunities may develop as the event gets closer. Many government and volunteer agencies are still developing their plans. You will have the opportunity to volunteer for one shift or more if you like. You will have the opportunity to spend the night in the shelter. 

Phil Shea can assist you or your church to participate. He is one of the people who will be representing the Voluntary Organizations Activating in Disaster (VOAD) in the State Emergency Operations Center during the exercise. The SWC is a member of VOAD and our national UCC Disaster Ministries Executive is the chairperson for the National VOAD.

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Port Arthur Worksite

Project Focus/Work: Volunteers will be helping to repair homes for low income renters who were displaced by the floods. Work may include but will not be limited to light carpentry, drywall, insulation, flooring, trim and painting.

Adult to Youth Ratio: 1:4 Each group should include a ratio of at least 1 adult to every 4 youths (age 16 and older only, please).

Time: Open for volunteers beginning in February 2018. Arrive Sunday afternoon and depart Saturday morning. Work: Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Group size: 12 maximum

Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in a large, newly renovated house located in Beaumont, Texas. Beds and/or cots and kitchen access provided. Groups bring own bedding and prepare own meals. Volunteers will be expected to share shower and bathroom facilities.

Tools: Tool trailers will be on site for use by volunteer groups. Volunteers are welcome to bring personal tools if they so choose.

Meals: The volunteer house has a full kitchen that can be used by groups. Additionally, there is a large variety of restaurants within a short drive.

Lodging for volunteers is FREE! Volunteers receive a free UCC Disaster Ministries t-shirt.

Matthew & Irma Recovery, Volusia County, Fla.

Project/Focus: Repair/Rebuild homes. Roofing, gutting interiors, replacing insulation, siding, drywall repair and painting, flooring and other interior work as needed.

Time:  Began July 2017 Arrive Sunday afternoon and depart Saturday morning.  Work: Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

Accommodations:  Housing for groups provided at local churches in the county; this is arranged through VIND. Beds and/or cots and kitchen access provided.  Groups bring own bedding and prepare own meals.  (Some meals may be provided by local churches.)  Showers, bathrooms, and lounge room for meetings available in church buildings. For more information, visit www.unioncongochurch.com.

Cost:  $12/day/person. Less for groups over 12.  Costs for case management, building materials, tools, and construction supervision provided through the local long-term recovery committee. Your donations to UCC One Great Hour of Sharing® help make possible the local work of the Long-Term Recovery Committee.

Minimum Age 16 years

Group Size:  24 Maximum 

Adult to Youth Ratio:  1:4 Each group should include a ratio of at least 1 adult to every 4 youths.  Long Term Recovery committee provides general Construction Coordinator and materials through VIND, who will provide construction and volunteer scheduling, coordination and housing arrangements in Volusia County.

Tools:  Groups should bring standard carpentry tools (hammers and cordless screw drivers, etc.) No special tools will be required. Specific questions can be directed to VIND Volunteer Coordinators upon registration. 4 UCC Tool trailers are in service and 1 from VIND.

California Fires

During the first week in April, Phil Shea will be at the National UCC Disaster Ministries Conference in Oakland. It will include a site survey of the damage and recovery efforts. More information on how and when we can assist in California should be available after the conference.

Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Volunteer Mission Groups Needed

Beginning June 2018, groups serve in Puerto Rico for one-week periods.  Sign up to receive e-mail notification of registration opening.