One of the many invisible tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic was the shutdown of opportunities to volunteer and serve in-person in locations impacted by disasters. The usual sight of volunteer teams, usually stepping out of church vans and buses, brandishing shiny tools, fresh work gloves, and an overflow of compassion went missing after March 2020.
Over the course of my lifetime, the presence and predictability of volunteers and the overwhelm of donated resources after a disaster buoyed an unquenchable hope within me – faith that we are never alone, even when the unimaginable becomes reality.
As we adjust to lives on this side of the pandemic, will the rise of volunteers return? I am praying that they do.
If you are feeling moved to remind your churches, youth groups, Sunday school classes, college ministries, pub theology friends, or bible study pod that we still need volunteers to assist in disaster recovery, my challenge to you today is to consider volunteering in those places that did not experience the steady flow of volunteer teams in their communities because of the barriers of the pandemic.
Reach out to me if you are interested in volunteering at sites in the Synod of the Sun, email@example.com. Recovery efforts from Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Ida are ongoing in Southeast and Southwest Louisiana, as well as ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery in Houston, Texas.
Ferncliff Camp & Conference Center, located just ten miles west of Little Rock, Arkansas, also serves as a Disaster Assistance Center. Volunteer teams are welcome to serve in their 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse, which is designated to receive Church World Services’ Gift of the Heart kits donated by churches across the country. You can read more on their website: https://ferncliff.org/outreach/disaster-assistance/
Check out Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s website for places already set up to host you and your volunteer team today: https://pda.pcusa.org/page/work-teams-locations/
Dust off your PDA blue shirts (or we can get you a new one!) and y’all come back now. We’ve missed you.