Hurricane Florence Hits the East Coast

#HurricaneFlorence - September 24 Update

Hurricane Florence may have left the United States a week ago, but the effects of this weather-related tragedy are being felt across most of the eastern portions of North Carolina. Some of the most devastated areas include Wilmington, New Bern, and Fayetteville. The Carolina and South Atlantic Conferences that were directly affected by this disaster are working hard to determine how best to assist in this Recovery effort.

The Carolina Conference has set up a Warehouse in Winnesboro, SC, where supplies such as flood buckets, paper towels and tissues, food items, household items, and etc. are being stored. Phil Rosburg, the conference ACS DR Director, operates this facility by loading pallets of items that are being donated, and then transporting them to Centers where they'll be distributed to those in need. Another area where we are engaged in is New Bern. Assessments of the New Bern community will be done by ACS DR and Southern University students.

The South Atlantic Conference ACS DR Teams met with the city leaders of Wilmington, and also the church leaders of the Ephesus SDA Church. They discussed the situation and developed a plan of action based on a ‘needs list’ for the area. A door to door assessment of the surrounding community will be conducted by local ACS volunteers, followed by Distribution of donated goods for the community. On Tuesday, a food distribution is planned in Fayetteville with the city officials for hot meals. On Wednesday, the Greater New York Conference DR Team, led by Walter Harris, will be arriving to assist in these communities. 

Let us continue to remember the communities that have been affected, as well as the DR Teams that are actively involved in the Recovery Efforts.

Hurricane Florence is gradually making its way towards the East Coast mainland and is expected to make landfall late Thursday night/early Friday morning around the Carolinas. W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS DR Director, met with the directors and coordinators of the Southern and Columbia Unions and some of the Conferences under the respective Unions: Carolina, South Atlantic, Allegheny East, Chesapeake, Potomac, and New Jersey. Our ACS DR Teams in the mentioned conferences appear positioned well. They have developed a plan of action for this type of a crisis event. Flood buckets are in place throughout each State that is in danger. Personal care kits are available and ready for use. Warehousing agreements are in place and our teams await the exact location for operations to begin. Some conferences that may not take a direct hit as anticipated earlier, are on standby to assist with the Recovery Efforts. We continue to have conversation with the State, American Red Cross, and ADRA as to how we might work in concert as Recovery begins. Please keep our ACS DR teams and each of the communities that will be affected in your prayers.

Nonprofit Leadership Certification Program 2018

The ACS Nonprofit Leadership Certification Program (NLCP) 2018 was held at Andrews University from September 4-7 (Tuesday - Friday). It was co-sponsored by the North American Division ACS in partnership with Andrews University, Philanthropic Services for Institutions, and Adventist Risk Management. The event was well-attended by over 40 participants from the US, Canada, UK, South Korea, and Myanmar. We had a diverse group that consisted of ACS directors, ADRA leaders, pastors, students, and directors and coordinators from various ministries such as Personal, Compassion, Prayer, and Health Ministry.

The workshops included topics on holistic ministry, community assessment and program development, urban ministry, leadership and team development, ministering cross-culturally, risk management, legal issues, fundraising strategies, grant proposal writing, marketing and communications, volunteer engagement, performance measurement for ministries, and logic model development. The last session of the event ended on Friday afternoon with presentations by each participant on how they can utilize the Logic Model method in enhancing their own community outreach programs and activities.

Visit our NAD ACS Facebook page for photos.

ACS Participation in Emergency Management Training

ACS and ADRA participated in an innovative Emergency Management Training program from August 26-31. ADRA coordinated the effort, taking the lead in training sessions and managing the simulation exercise.

Five ACS DR Team members started the training with a three-day classroom session, and ended with a simulation that took place for another three days. The participants received expert knowledge in International response. Some of the topics included Communications, Protection, Cultural Parameters around the world, and United Nations assistance. In addition to the onsite classroom work, each person was required to take over 40 hours of online training prior to class attendance.

The second half of the training called for an exciting simulation exercise when ADRA staff whisked the participants away to an undisclosed location. The exercise entailed real life team deployment, hostages by actors from the community, and objectives and deadlines that had to be met in a way that ultimately served the public best. A part of the exercise involved the Team members being awakened at 3 am by local community participants screaming about a flooding that had destroyed a village next door. Though all this was simulated activity, the realism of the participants raised heart rates throughout the camp.

Even though both ACS and ADRA work with partners outside of the church like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and even Governmental authorities; however, up until this time we had not the opportunity to work together in such an endeavor. W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS DR Director, said “While we both respond to similar disasters, typically the need within the NAD and outside of this area are different. Understanding the rules and environment each of us operates under requires expanding our knowledge, skills and abilities”. Expressing his excitement, Lea continued “I am truly proud of the dedication, enthusiasm and proficiency of our ACS DR team. I also believe a foundation has been laid for more collaborative efforts with ADRA”.

ACS Offers Emotional & Spiritual Care Session in Rwanda

Our first ACS Emotional and Spiritual Care class outside of the North American Division was conducted last week in Rwanda. The 'Assisting Individuals in Crisis' course was taught by W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS Disaster Response Director, in the city of Kigali from August 13-15. A few months ago ADRA Rwanda reached out to us asking if we’d be willing to offer guidance in Emotional Spiritual Care training to their team onsite. Many of the other ADRA country offices in Africa also expressed interest in attending the training, as well. We had 35 people from seven countries (Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania) that turned up for it.

One of the clearest indications of how different some of our work is within the NAD occurred during the introductions when each participant was asked to say their name along with a disaster they had responded to in the last six months. The list of events that was compiled included cholera, malaria, Ebola outbreaks, refugee influxes, cyclones, drought, and mudslides. War conflicts within countries were also highlighted as one of the major crises. These events signify the degree of trauma many in attendance were dealing with daily. As the first day of the class began, it was evident that the attendees had a need to share their experiences and the challenge of meeting their concerns was one Derrick took very seriously. 

Each day of the session focused on how part of our task was to offer support to communities that in several cases were still recovering from crisis events in various areas. An example of this was described by one of the country directors from the South Congo. Since war has been a reality in this area for over 20 years, many of those he encounters have been displaced from their homes and living in a refugee camp for 5-10 years, which is beyond the norm and original intent of a refugee camp. These families continue to be impacted by the loss of a home and exposure to an outbreak of cholera in the area, leaving them in a perpetual state of crisis. These are the type of multilevel events that compound an already challenging situation.

Another country director spoke of communities that are in such a sense of shock that they will not verbalize or communicate the level of tragedy to anyone trying to help or assist them in any way. This challenge complicates the assessment of the needed support for this group. These are the type of issues that were discussed over the course of the session with those in attendance. The responses we received from them was overwhelmingly positive. "I hope we can again work out the particulars of how ACS and ADRA can work together in support of communities that experience crisis around the world. As we become more familiar with the strengths both organizations bring to recovery efforts, those affected will ultimately be better served by the Seventh-day Adventist Church," said Derrick.

Here are a few photos of the Emotional & Spiritual Care session in Rwanda:


ACS 'CHOP' Program with Ochsner Foundation

The ACS Center of Westbank United SDA Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, recently entered into a collaboration with Ochsner Foundation Healthcare System to offer children in their community 'The CHOP Toolkit'. The acronym CHOP stands for "Cooking Up Healthy Options and Portions", which complements the health message of our Church very well. The purpose of this program is to teach the children of our congregations and neighborhoods the importance of good nutrition, eating small portions, as well as learning to safely use kitchen tools. 

The CHOP Toolkit is a eight-to-ten week program, providing the necessary space for teaching and cooking vegetarian meals. It will include communicating regularly with the CHOP basic staff, completing a pre and post test with participants, and providing documentation and receipts for purchases that were made through Walmart gift cards that were supplied for food supplies. 

The first summer event of the CHOP program was held from June 13-July 16 at the Westbank United SDA Church. It was sponsored by Ochsner Foundation, Westbank United SDA Church, City of New Orleans Tricentennial Committee and Neighborhood Engagement, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Washington, and Colistics Pharmacy. The activity schedule included the following; 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m - Cooking lessons and Lunch; 2:00 to 3:00 p.m - Recreation/Break; 3:15 to 4:00 p.m - Anger Management/Problem Solving; 4:00 to 4:50 p.m - Christian Grooming and Manners; and at 5:00 p.m was Dismissal.

Each child and staff member were given a study manual and an apron. The CHOP Instructor Manual was supplied by Irene H. Williams, Director of ACS Center of the Westbank United SDA Church. "The children and staff had a wonderful learning experience together. The children had fun while learning to cook and work as a team", said Ms. Williams. She is excited about this new collaborative opportunity and is looking forward to many more events like this in the future.