A Future With Hope has facilitated and inspired more than 9,000 volunteers coming from more than 38 states to help with Sandy Recovery.
Some of those volunteers are leaders from other conferences in the country. Western Pennsylvania Conference Bishop Thomas Bickerton became the third bishop, along with their cabinets, to volunteer, last month. Every volunteer team is important as the three year anniversary of the storm nears and more than 10,000 people remain in need of recovery help.
Many people around the country and even the region have forgotten about Superstorm Sandy or believe that recovery is long complete. A Future With Hope needs United Methodists throughout the conference and the region to spread the news that much works needs to be done so that A Future With Hope can stay on the ground in recovery until the job is finished.
Conference leaders in Greater New Jersey and Western Pennsylvania led by example by spending a week in June rebuilding houses and bringing attention to the need that is very real to the thousands of people who are living in unsafe conditions or who have not been able to return home since the storm in October of 2012.
Bishop Bickerton and his cabinet spent a week working in the home of an elderly Chinese-speaking couple in Roselle Park. The language barrier the couple encountered was another confounding element of their path to recovery, but breaching that barrier made their connections with the cabinet volunteers all the more meaningful.
One homeowner they worked with got choked up when the team finished and cleaned up his kitchen. It was the first time in 2½ years it could finally be used again as a proper kitchen.
Another homeowner said the Western Pennsylvania cabinet team helped “joy and laughter return to the home.”
The visiting WPA cabinet team worked on other Union County homes in Linden and Union Township, as well as a raised home in Keansburg in Monmouth County. Dozens of United Methodist churches in Western Pennsylvania have already sent mission teams to help in recovery. Hopefully, dozens more will follow WPA’s leadership and volunteer for 2016.
Also in June, GNJ Bishop John Schol and Greater New Jersey’s cabinet and connectional ministries team put up wall board and painted a home in Little Egg Harbor. The team bunked at the Lacey United Methodist Church host site.
Rich Hendrickson, Director of Stewardship and Visioning is a veteran of mission work and was inspired by the work.
“It can be surprising how much need there still is,” he said, “but it’s also rewarding to know that Methodists are still on the ground, helping. If we want to help our neighbors we must take action, share their stories, lend a hand, and get those hands dirty.”
In the summer of 2013, the West Virginia cabinet and Bishop Sandra Steiner-Ball were the first conference leadership team to volunteer in Sandy recovery with A Future With Hope. As recovery gets more complicated in the coming months and years, A Future With Hope staff hopes that other Bishops and conference leaders follow their lead.
“The more attention that we can bring to the needs of the people of New Jersey who are struggling with recovery, means more volunteers will come to work with A Future With Hope to help complete the recovery process,” Bishop Schol said. “When people hurt, United Methodists help.”