Mennonite Disaster Services: Partners in Communities Recovering

By | September 12, 2019

When the floods hit in February we
organized our first meeting of community partners five days after the flood and
we invited the Indiana VOAD – Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to be
at that first meeting. They’ve been instrumental in helping us get the right
people, the right processes in place to move forward with the recovery efforts.
Mennonite Disaster Service is a faith-based organization- and the four
pillars consist of there needs to be skilled volunteers which is what you see
behind me, there needs to be equipment for them to use to get the job done and
that’s supplied by us with the tool trailer inlet and they also bring in
their own tools often, and then there also needs to be meaningful work and
obviously the work here is is meaningful, and then lastly the funding needs to be
in place for us not for us to operate it so we provide the labor and then once
the materials are here we’ll come and do the work. The project today is on a
home that was destroyed by the flood here in Marshall County. The group
that’s here today is a group of 20 men and women from Lagrange and Elkhart
counties both of the men that I’m working with here are long-term
volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Service and the young people that are
working here are the Amish youth that are off this week because their
employers shut the factories down over the fourth of July. They call this a
vacation. They’re away from the normal. So that’s who’s here helping us
work. The criteria for the family receiving help is we look first to see
if they have insurance, and then we also look to see if they have received FEMA
funding, we look to see if they’ve applied for SBA for a small business
administration support, and then we look to see if they’ve received any state
disaster assistance as well, and then after we look at all of those resources
it goes to our unmet needs committee. But we’re looking first for
families that are displaced. Families that are no longer living in their home.
We’re looking for families that maybe they have disabilities family members
with disabilities, low income families a lot of our families about 37% are senior
citizens some living on fixed incomes so so those are priorities for us. One of
the important parts of assistance that we offer is the spiritual emotional care
as well. It is a long process for folks and they have they have a lot of stress. Our brains work a little different in trauma. And so we’re aware of
that and are here to help provide some emotional spiritual support as well.
Connecting them with those partners that can provide that kind of assistance. It’s
rewarding for us that’s rewarding for the homeowner but sometimes it speaks
more directly to us. It’s part of part of a passion that we have
in life and a calling and it’s basically you know putting
the shoe leather to the ground. We recognize that it’s a long process for
people but they’re so grateful. So grateful for the help and we see so many
relationships form out of this work you know people that are coming in to help
are forming relationships with the homeowners and relationships with other
volunteers it really is rewarding work and a whole lot of ways.

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