Disciples Volunteering is supporting early response efforts in Texas across the Harvey-impact area and planning for the long-term. It is difficult to overstate the size and scope of this disaster. Impacted communities stretch for over 300 miles. Nearly 900,000 households have registered for federal assistance. Disciples response will be fluid for the foreseeable future; however, because so many people are interested in helping now and in the long-term, the following are ways that you and your church can serve in the recovery efforts.
Disciples Volunteering has partnered with NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster – in order to connect with opportunities for muck and gut work. If you are able to help with this work, be in touch with Cidra Nelson, Volunteer Coordinator. Cidra reports, “We’re currently cleaning out damaged possessions from flood-damaged homes and gutting out the walls/floors. No experience is necessary and we provide all of the tools and safety gear.” Please note: NECHAMA coordinates mission groups any day Tuesday – Sunday; Monday is their day off. NECHAMA can provide housing and meals for groups of up to 15 people and Cidra will work with you to find other housing if necessary. They are working out of Bellaire, TX, just outside Houston. Servants must be at least 14 years old, and those 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult. There is no cost to serve with NECHAMA but a donation is encouraged to offset the cost of expenses (especially meals). Cidra can be reached at email@example.com. If you make a trip to serve with NECHAMA, please let Josh Baird know about your experience, and feel free to be in touch with any questions.
Along with gutting, coordination is coming into place to address other needs and to begin repair work in the near future. Please watch this page for details, reach out to Josh Baird, follow Disciples Volunteering’s facebook page, and sign-up for “Disaster Recovery News” email updates.
We know that there will be work across Harvey-impacted communities for years to come. We also know that there is a strong interest from Disciples congregations in sending mission teams to help. Disciples Volunteering therefore is opening a schedule (see below) for mission teams to reserve a week. However, because local recovery groups are still forming and we do not know exactly where local partners will best be able to utilize our support, we cannot give you a specific destination when you register. We will work to adjust capacity based on sign-ups but please understand that if the schedule fills up for any given week we will need to ask you to find a different week – or consider a mission trip to a community recovering from a low-attention disaster which is also in need of help. We have identified opportunities for serving in Texas from locations as scattered as Corpus Christi, Houston, and Orange, TX – plus so many communities in between – and the likelihood is that our response will move around as the recovery advances.
Housing will be as with past mission stations. Sleeping space is provided in a local congregation, you will be required to bring your own air mattress and bedding. Kitchen space will be made available for groups to prepare their own meals. Showers will be on site or nearby.
Mission teams with youth must have at least 1 adult for every 5 youth. Because we do not know who our long-term partners will be, we cannot accept registration for youth under the age of 14. It is also possible that younger youth may have to work on different (possibly non-disaster) work sites. If the ambiguity around this reality gives you pause, know that mission partners in Missouri, West Virginia, and Florida are all willing to discuss the possibilities for mixed-age groups (none can receive a middle school only team, but they have some flexibility). You can read about those opportunities here.
WE ANTICIPATE THAT Costs for participating will be like past responses: $25 /person is due to Disciples Home Missions in advance of your trip. An additional $50 / person is suggested as the appropriate donation to your host church. In addition, groups that can bring funds to offset the cost of materials used during your week will enable our resources to stretch farther and the recovery to reach more people – a donation of $1,000 / group is suggested. As Partnerships are still coming together, it may be that a material fee is required. As soon as these details are known, we will communicate them to registered groups. If you have any questions about this, please contact Josh directly.
To reserve a week at a Harvey-response Texas Mission Station, please fill out the form here.