Collaborative Recovery Efforts in Louisiana

Early Monday (August 29) morning, the NAD ACS Team met up with the ACS workers from Tennessee at the Distribution Center, and spoke with them about about how their home churches and some counties had supported them in their plans to help with the Relief work in Louisiana. The discussion also involved reviewing a listing of the homes affected that had been prepared by the local ACS leadership, and outlining them in a manner that would ensure the most effective use of the resources. The discussion with the team from Tennessee was followed by another discussion with the American Red Cross Team led by Director Carlos.

The different groups that were actively involved in the Recovery Efforts touched on some of the shortfalls that they had experienced in the last few days. For example, the Red Cross highlighted some of their concerns with the donated “stuff’ that had been given to them. In the afternoon, conference calls were held for our Union Directors and some of our other Conference Directors/Coordinators to discuss the continued work in Louisiana. "This interaction will create opportunities for collaborative support of our team on the ground and we’ll follow-up upon my return to the home office," says W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS Disaster Response Director.

Presently, the local Southwest Regional and Arkansas-Louisiana Conferences are scheduling volunteers to serve in both the Warehouse and the Wellness Center. As these plans are being formulated, the local community continues to keep an eye on the weather reports. In the last six months, Louisiana has been hit by a Tornado in February, a major flooding in the Spring when 40 of the 64 Parishes were affected to experiencing this latest flooding. Forecast reports are now calling for a possible Hurricane that is predicted to devastate the State again.  

Please, let us keep the State of Louisiana in our thoughts and prayers, for their protection and safety as they encounter such weather-related tragedies.

ACS Continues Work in Baton Rouge, LA

On August 28 early morning (Sunday), ACS continued its Recovery Efforts by starting the day off at the Warehouse in Baton Rouge, by taking in supplies from around the region and distributing them appropriately. A letter from the State of Louisiana (see link below) was sent to all the public and non-governmental organizations, informing them about the ACS-operated Warehouse. "We believe the push from the State will lead to a continual increase in the amount of goods received at the facility run by our team for the community affected," says W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS Disaster Response Director.

In addition to the ACS members, they were also able to negotiate an agreement with the Federal Government to use VISTA workers at the Warehouse. This group is made up of young people from around the country who volunteer their services for as many as 12 months to public service. They were able to get hold of ten of these workers who have worked in partnership with our ACS staff and volunteers to help transform two empty buildings into functional Warehouses that will serve Louisiana for many months. On the same day, a 6-member team of ACS workers from Nashville, TN had arrived. They were directed to their sleeping quarters where they will reside for the next week. This group has partnered with the Southwest Regional Conference and agreed to use their skills, equipment and abilities to clean homes in the Baton Rouge area. 

In addition to the work at the Warehouse, ACS continues its Shelter and Distribution Center operation on Osborne Avenue in Baton Rouge. ACS is providing meals, cots, and even entertainment for the children. Southwest Regional Conference is providing this service through the ACS Director Durandel Ford. Several individuals have signed up to offer their assistance for this cause. The commitment shown by such people whose homes had not been affected was humbling and truly showed the spirit that Christ asks of us.

Letter from State of Louisiana about the Warehouse

VISTA workers at the Warehouse in Baton Rouge, LA

VISTA workers at the Warehouse in Baton Rouge, LA

The Distribution Center on Osborn Avenue in Baton Rouge, LA

The Distribution Center on Osborn Avenue in Baton Rouge, LA

STEAM Ahead - ACS Ministry

STEAM Ahead @ Discovery Junction is one of the latest outreach ministries of Adventist Community Services in the Upper Columbia Conference. This six-month old ministry constitutes of an after-school enrichment program, as well as summer camp learning opportunities every year. STEAM is an integration program that will engage students hands-on in the field of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. They've had a six-week course for two hours a day that included Forensic Science, Biology, and Lego Robotics. The students have also planted 4 x 4 gardens which are producing successfully. Other activities include music, games, arts and crafts, building bird houses, character-building activities, and etc.  

Now that public schools have started for the new school year, the program will get going once again. A local engineering firm has offered to regularly send engineers to teach a segment probably once a month. They have also included programs for senior citizens and English language study lessons for non-native speakers. "Since Discovery Junction houses 12 new computers, I see potential for ESL classes or Eldercare enrichment," says Patty Marsh, ACS Director of Upper Columbia Conference. The Spokane Better Living Center now includes a fall-prevention exercise class that meets twice a week for their over 60 age group (Eldercare).  

After receiving the Compassion Grant of $15,000 from the NAD Ministerial Department to continue making a difference in the community, they would like to make a promotion video in the next few months. They are excited about their new venture and are looking for volunteers who could offer their assistance and expertise in various activities, so Discovery Junction can expand. Click here to read more about the program: http://www.uccsda.org/News/News2016-08-17

Paul Hoover, President of Upper Columbia Conference, hands the Grant of $15,000 check to Pr. Dayv Lounsbury of Spokane Central SDA Church. Photo Credit: Art Lenz

Paul Hoover, President of Upper Columbia Conference, hands the Grant of $15,000 check to Pr. Dayv Lounsbury of Spokane Central SDA Church. Photo Credit: Art Lenz

ACS Conducts National Mass Care Exercise

The North American Division Adventist Community Services is currently (August 22 - 25) leading out in the National Mass Care Exercise, which is taking place in Missouri, along with the States of Iowa and Nebraska. The purpose is to simulate an actual crisis event in size and scope, and determine how we would respond as a community during a major disaster that may strike these areas in the future. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State Emergency Management, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and several other NGOs have joined together to conduct this Mass Care Exercise. The Iowa-Missouri Conference ACS Director, Jodi Dickhaut, has played a role in developing this exercise for the past year. 

During this event, NAD has been involved in representing Disaster Response in Jefferson City, MO at the Emergency Operations Center. There were approximately 100 individuals representing different agencies, that simulated the resources they could bring to play in a live situation. The drawbacks of the exercise were taken note of and will be addressed. With similar related operations taking place all over the State, ACS gathered support personnel from Iowa-Missouri, Central States, and Rocky Mountain Conferences in different parts of the State, culminating with the Mass Care Exercise event in Independence, MO at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. About 500 individuals have arrived and will serve in various roles as assigned by the organizers at the Arena, 100 of who are ACS volunteers.  

This is the largest event of its size ever planned in the United States. The significance of this operation is witnessed by other state authorities and the Federal Government as well. Representatives from around the country have sent personnel to observe and capture how this Exercise is being conducted. After this Exercise, reports will be used to create plans for others in State Emergency Management offices around the nation. The Adventist Community Services Disaster Response Team, led by W. Derrick Lea, plans on working in a collaborative manner to share the information acquired with each of our conferences. "The intent is to get better at helping those experiencing crisis in an intentional way," stated Lea. Dr Sung Kwon, NAD ACS Director, expressed his excitement about the involvement of the Adventist Church with the Conference ACS leaders and volunteers. Kwon stated, "This is a great opportunity to serve and educate the communities in disaster response situations, also to be recognized as a vital team player to support the efforts as Adventist Church."

Louisiana Floods Update - August 23, 2016

Below is an outline of the Louisiana flood recovery efforts in the past week (August 15 - 21):

  • Opened up two shelters to house individuals whose homes have been damaged
  • Delivered food to families for the week
  • Agreement for two facilities signed with State
  • Secured Warehouse space from State in Baton Rouge
  • Invitational Travel reimbursement being finalized with the State
  • Crisis Care workers prepared to travel to Louisiana
  • Organized secure lodging for volunteers.

The Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church's Wellness Center has become the distribution hub of donated goods for the flood survivors. It is located in Baton Rouge and is led by Lyn Hykeim. The Warehouse will be operated in three-month segments. The ACS mobile unit was out at the Berean SDA Church Wellness Center last week, which served around 108 families. The Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas Conference, under the leadership of Lavida Whitson, has provided comfort and personal hygiene kits along with blankets.

There are several other churches and groups who are lending their assistance and support for this cause. The Clio Place Baptist Church at New Orleans will be providing water and other needed items. The West bank United Seventh-day Adventist Church will again loan their church van for pickups and deliver items to the Wellness Center. The Spanish Church at Metairie will also be assisting with personal hygiene items and comfort kits under the direction of Katia Costa. A group from the South Central Conference, led by Pr. Williams Little, will be bringing in supplies, dump trucks, mobile units and at least 25 volunteers who will be housed at the Wellness Center/ school. They have tremendously helped us in the past to gut houses and clean them of debris, as well as with other tasks. They have expressed their desire and willingness to come out and help with the flood situation in Louisiana. 

Items for donation include: baby clothes and supplies, disposable diapers for children and adults, bottled water, non- perishable food items, slightly used and new clothing, brand new underwear, shoes and socks, brand new flip-flops, cleaning supplies, bed linen/towels, school supplies, and etc. 

Monetary donations are also accepted at www.mysouthwestregion.org.

Send a check to:
ArkLa Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Disaster Fund
PO Box 31000
Shreveport, LA 71130