The pandemic presented significant challenges for communities affected by disasters–including shortages of supplies and restrictions on volunteering. But through it all, Week of Compassion partners have found ways to continue serving survivors. Now, Disciples have the opportunity to serve at some of these mission sites. As gathering becomes possible again, disaster recovery volunteers are needed more than ever!
One of the opportunities to serve is in Pamlico County, North Carolina. Hundreds of houses in the area were devastated by Hurricane Florence in 2018 (with some subsequently damaged by Hurricane Dorian in 2019). Soon after Hurricane Florence, a partnership emerged between the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Pamlico County Disaster Recovery Coalition, in order to assist with housing repairs across the county. The project prioritized serving some of the most vulnerable households: low-income, elderly, veterans, disabled people, and/or families with children in the home.
“Ms. Gloria’s home was hit hard during Hurricane Florence,” Week of Compassion partners recently shared. “Her roof was damaged, which let water into the home, causing further damage. Some generous friends helped to repair the roof and prevent further problems with leaks, but Ms. Gloria had been unable to re-enter her home for over two years, since the storm also destroyed the wheelchair ramps that made her house accessible. Through a collaboration between Week of Compassion and several local partners, volunteers repaired damaged siding, replaced flooring, and began reconfiguring the interior of her home to make it more wheelchair friendly (such as widening the door to her bathroom). With a few more weeks of work, Ms. Gloria’s home will be ready for her to move back in.”
Camp Caroline, the Disciples of Christ church camp in Pamlico County, serves as one of the volunteer host sites in the county. The flexibility and quality of volunteer housing, the broad coalition of partners, and the commitment to volunteer and survivor wellbeing, helped enable work to continue throughout the pandemic. Still, support is needed for ongoing recovery.
As vaccines become increasingly available, and as ecumenical partners have growing success with COVID-19 protocols for volunteer teams, Week of Compassion has identified several volunteer opportunities for disaster recovery, including hurricane recovery in Louisiana and tornado recovery in Ohio, in addition to the recovery in North Carolina.
The pandemic remains a fluid situation, with regional spikes in cases, new variants, and continued risks and uncertainties, so in-person volunteer opportunities may not be suitable for everyone at this time. Currently, Week of Compassion requires that all volunteers who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine do so before serving. Those who are able to volunteer safely can make a significant contribution to the important work of disaster recovery, supported by our wider Church.
For more Information about current and potential volunteer opportunities, visit the Week of Compassion website: www.weekofcompassion.org/volunteer