ACS DR Advisory 2018

The ACS Disaster Response personnel around the North American Division gathered together in Providence, Rhode Island on May 6-7 for the annual DR Advisory just before the National VOAD Conference. There were around 50 individuals present to discuss new initiatives and share some of the work that is taking place around the Division and beyond. 

One of the initiatives discussed was a new course offering Delivering Powerful, Purposeful Presentations. In partnership with the NAD Education Department, this course was created as one of the requirements for our DR Instructors that will better prepare them to offer classes to ensure the best possible services throughout the Division. It will be offered over the next year in various locations in each Union to those interested in becoming or remaining certified Instructors. An overview of our Warehouse Management System, Flowtrac, was given by Dan Hoover. He talked about the system operations, and the many adjustments that have been made to deal with some of the realities on the ground. We will be working on putting together a training program to support Flowtrac in Conferences around the Division. 

Dan Weber, NAD Communications Director, presented a Communications perspective that should lead to increasing our ability to inform others of the great work our teams are participating in in their areas. Simple suggestions like how to take a picture and how to set up relationships with the media can increase the exposure of the assistance our Church is offering to others. One of the National VOAD Board members, April Woods, thanked the attendees for their partnership and participation throughout the year. She spoke of the benefit of coming together to help the community.

The Advisory ended with each Union taking the opportunity to speak through their Conference Leads. Hearing the tremendous work ACS DR is participating in in so many different areas of service was extremely encouraging to all. From Warehouse Operations to Sheltering to Feeding programs to Rebuilding work, the discussion was exciting and showed the heartfelt dedication of our people. Everyone present was truly appreciative of this opportunity where they could gather together to discuss how their efforts can be combined to increase the service we are able to give to others in our community.

 

Michigan Students Assist in Rebuild Project

A group of eleven missionary students from Michigan State University - CAMPUS ministries made the most of their spring break by volunteering their time and services towards the Rebuild Project in Houston, Texas. On March 1, Thursday, they took off for their week-long mission trip. Going into the trip, they were not entirely sure what to expect and what was expected of them, However, the students reported that the whole experience turned out to be a beautiful blessing for all of them.

The students worked in a Buddhist community called Rosharon, that was severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. A lot of the people were either from Cambodia or Laos and they didn’t have any flood insurance. Their homes and property were completely destroyed. Some of them were living in wood sheds covered with tarp. Nevertheless, the students praised and thanked God for sparing their lives and for sending numerous people there to help rebuild homes in the community. 

The student missionaries were able to stay onsite right in the community. Several families had agreed to open up their homes for the year to accommodate volunteers, missionaries, and humanitarian aid workers who would be providing assistance with hurricane relief in the community. Some of the tasks the students undertook were tearing down old houses in order to build new ones, painting, remodeling, driving the skid steer, cleaning out homes, and picking up garbage. In addition, they had the privilege of meeting the beautiful residents of the community who were grateful and appreciative of their services. The students not only showed their love and compassion to them, but also to their precious animals.

The students also enjoyed working in partnership with other groups and relief organizations. Most of the people who were there to help in this area were Christians, so it was a blessing for them to be able to meet other believers, and see how God is also using them to reach the people in the community of Rosharon. "It was a week filled with very dirty work and little running water, but I saw God’s goodness throughout it all, and it was an experience I’ll never forget," said Chris Matts, one of the student missionaries. He added, "Pray for those in our world that are in need of the things that we so often take for granted. It was truly an eye opening experience to see that you don’t have to travel outside of our country to help those who are in need. It was an incredible trip that opened our eyes to the humility and love of Jesus, the spiritual battle that we’re in, our own desperate need for Christ, and it showed us that God can still use us just as the broken vessels we are to do His work."

Click here to see photos from their mission trip:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/16V0SkSkFpfYFSm2l02WCk5eJGDjHqr7O

 

Sunstone Town Homes Fire in Colorado

On March 26 around twenty Sunstone Town homes in southeast Colorado Springs were destroyed by a three-alarm fire caused by carelessly-discarded live cigarettes. Three people were taken to the hospital, and more than 70 residents were displaced. Cathy Kissner, Adventist Community Services Director, reported about ACS's response to the tragedy. “We are greatly saddened by the loss of the town homes in the Colorado Springs area and our team from Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, and Pueblo are working together, along with the community, to help the families re-establish normalcy,” Kissner said. “Our primary objective is to show the love of the Father to his hurting children,” she added.

A collection Distribution Center was open from 8 am - 6 pm at the nearby Springs Adventist Academy. The standard needs of the survivors were personal hygiene items, paper plates, paper cups, paper towels, plastic silverware, and new air mattresses. "As an agency, we are connecting a home-schooling family with the home-school association in Colorado Springs," Kissner added. ACS also partnered with the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, and the LDS Church where each organization supported a specific need. Monetary donations are being encouraged now to support the relief efforts since many in-kind donation centers have filled up quickly.

 

ACS Responds to Midwest Disasters

The recent February rains and melting snow in the Midwest has caused widespread flooding in several States, resulting in road closures, damage of homes and property, and even some fatalities. Evacuations have been underway in areas that were swamped by high water from the rain and melting snow runoff. Several regions in the Midwest have declared a state of emergency. The Michigan and Lake Region Conferences have been working with partner organizations and members of the community in providing food, temporary shelter, and other essential needs.

On February 24, Saturday night, an EF-2 Tornado hit the small community of Malden in Missouri State. It is a small town of under 5,000 residents located southwest of Sikeston. There were over 75 structures that were impacted with 11 homes fully destroyed and another 11 majorly damaged. The Iowa-Missouri Conference ACS Disaster Response Team is involved in the response efforts by supporting the Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC) with at least 12 ACS DR Ambassadors providing guidance and emotional support to impacted residents at the Center. ACS Volunteers from the surrounding communities of Cape Gerardo, Popular Bluff, and Sikeston, along with others from St. Louis are also providing assistance to the survivors.

 

N2N Assists Michigan Flood Survivors

The Berrien community in Michigan, as well as its neighboring communities, were seen either in need or helping those in need post the devastating floods that occurred recently. Several organizations and faith-based groups, including The American Red Cross, were on the scene assisting the survivors with shelter and food.

The Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Center, a ministry of ACS located in Berrien Springs, has also opened its doors to assist those affected by the floods. They have been providing supper daily and are gearing up to feed cooked meals for those who still need assistance. Laura Meyer, Executive Director, states that as of March 3, they served over 75 families and some are coming back multiple times as per their needs. The Center is also providing clothing, shoes, food, toiletries, toys for children, blankets, sheets, a new pillow and set of towels per family member. In addition, more than 25 flood buckets were distributed to help with clean up. An Emotional and Spiritual Care counseling session was also offered last week.

The Michigan Conference has partnered with the Village Church, who is hosting as a shelter and using Michigan Conference shower trailers set up in the parking lot. Survivors are not allowed to go back to their homes until an assessment has been done for safety reasons. Once approved, Michigan ACS DR Team and volunteers will work with the Southern Baptist Church for cleanup (removal of mud, muck, silt, etc.). Diana Bruch, Michigan Conference ACS Director, said “We traditionally help those who can’t help themselves after a disaster and we are intending to muckout the basement of any physically challenged and elderly victims who need our assistance." Those who are in need of help, please contact the N2N Center at (269) 471-7411 or visit their website.