As the scripture proclaims, “when one of us hurts, we all hurt together.” With compassion and a courageous spirit that exemplified the United Methodist mission, a group of 21 volunteers led by Butler UMC’s Jack Inglis gathered on Dec. 18 in Jersey City to help Christ Church, which had been devastated by Hurricane Ida. Together, they were able to complete the work they needed to do.
“A big thank you to all of the volunteers who came by the church to help clean up following Hurricane Ida. It’s been a rough few months as we’ve tried to get help with this huge project,” said Rev. Mark Schol. “A special thanks to the people of Butler UMC and GNJ who, without their help, we would not have been able to make this happen. Praise God!”
In November, a smaller team of volunteers spent a day removing all the water-damaged carpeting, furniture, floor tiles, books, and other debris, but a lack of dumpsters resulted in only being able to fill two dumpster bags.
“What an awesome day! We started out thinking it would be our team of five and it would take 21 days to finish cleaning out the church and filling a dumpster,” said Butler UMC’s Outreach Chair Jack Inglis.
He added, “Thanks to a shout out for help, we ended up being a total of 21 joyful volunteers coming from Christ Church, northern NJ, southern NJ and NY State. The dumpster was filled, the church was completely cleaned out and broom swept by mid-afternoon. Teamwork makes the DREAM work! God is so good. This is what the “United” in United Methodists means to us.”
But with 24 of our churches also needing help with clean up and repairs, more volunteers, both untrained and ERT-certified, are going to be needed as A Future With Hope progresses through this process through renewal. Gathering volunteers has been difficult as 71 other declarations of disaster have been made in the United States, including the most recent in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The onslaught has crippled any efforts of volunteers coming from out of state as was the case during superstorm Sandy. GNJ’s Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Cricket Denton is working hard to find team leaders who can rally volunteers in getting the work done.
“As natural disasters become more prevalent and extreme, having an organizational structure to respond is imperative,” said GNJ’s Disaster Response Coordinator Rev. Cricket Denton. “Our conference Disaster Response Committee is working hard to make sure we have the right people in the right positions in an effort to minimize our response time for future events.”
She added, “We’re partnering with different organizations to pull our resources and volunteers together to help those in need. As we begin to assess homes, our goal is to work in low-income areas so that we are helping the most vulnerable in our community.”
More resources regarding training, volunteering and funding can be found at www.gnjumc.org/afwh/ida-relief-effort/.