Improving Community Outreach in Jamaica

ACS leaders from the General Conference and the North American Division spent a few days in Jamaica to help our fellow church members in improving their community outreach ministries, through the Flip Classroom workshop sessions. The team consisted of Dr. Sung Kwon, Executive Director of NAD ACS, Dr. Sharon Aka, Associate Director of NAD Adventist Learning Community (ALC), and Dr. May-Ellen Colon, Director of ACS International, from the General Conference. The general sessions were provided by Dr. Colon and Dr. Kwon; and the ALC classes were given by Dr. Aka.

For the Sabbath worship service, Dr. Colon and Dr. Kwon spoke on how we, as Adventists, should transform our communities by reaching out and ministering to them. Dr. Kwon went on to add that we need to get out of our comfort zone within the four walls of the church and focus on serving those outside of these walls. "We have become inward focused instead of outward focused. We have become a self-serving entity instead of serving God and his people. The gospel is not about preaching from the head, but it is about connecting to people heart to heart," said Dr. Kwon.

On Sunday, Dr. Aka led out in the meeting with ACS leaders in the Jamaican Conferences, where she gave them an orientation of the Community Services & Urban Ministry Certification Program on the ALC platform. She also demonstrated how to access instructional videos and material that would help them in improving their community service ministry.

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Individuals in Crisis Workshop

Adventist Community Services hosted a 2-day “Assisting Individuals in Crisis” Workshop on March 15 – 16 (Wednesday & Thursday) at Summit Northwest Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho. It was conducted by Dr. Martin Feldbush. Participants were awarded CEUs by University of Maryland and Certificates of completion by ICISF. This is a new program launched for volunteer training through ACS. The workshop sessions were well received and turned out to be a great success. There were around 75 individuals from various professional backgrounds that deal with people in crisis; healthcare, law enforcement, counseling, mental health, and etc. The participants were extremely impressed with the sessions and are already looking forward to the “Group Crisis Intervention” Workshop.

Perryville Tornado Relief - Update

A Multi-Agency Recovery Center was set up on March 10 and 11 at First Baptist Church in Oak Grove. Several agencies joined together on these two days to be of service to the survivors of the tornado. They offered insurance information, legal services, emergency financial assistance, food stamp replacement services, health and wellness services, and more. In addition to these services, childcare and warm meals were also available. Along with Adventist Community Services, some of the other organizations that participated were the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, United Way 2-1-1, Catholic Charities of Kansas City - St. Joseph, Children's Disaster Services, ICNA Relief USA, and many more.

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Therapy Dog Helps Survivors with Recovery

Louisiana Kitchen Kit Project

The State of Louisiana is still in the process of recovering from the devastating floods that swept across the state in August 2016. One of the areas that were severely hit was Baton Rouge, which alone received a tremendous amount of rain in two days that it caused more than ten rivers to overflow. A federal disaster declaration was issued for over 20 parishes. Over 150,000 families have applied for assistance from the government.

ACS has been in regular contact with Louisiana State, the Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), and FEMA, identifying the needs of the affected communities and coordinating relief efforts. It was found that the greatest unmet need was for kitchen kits to allow families to prepare, serve, and eat meals in their own homes. The ARK-LA Conference ACS Disaster Response Management Team, led by Lavida Whitson, coordinated the ACS response to this emergency with the support of ACS volunteers from several other conferences. 

The needs of each family who applied for FEMA assistance were thoroughly evaluated, and resources were made available to them to assist in their recovery. ADRA provided the funds to purchase 450 kitchen kits; each kit was constituted of 83 pieces. The families who were eligible to receive the kits were scheduled for a distribution event in their corresponding parish. The kits were loaded into a truck and transported to the distribution sites, which had banners of ADRA and ACS hanging at each of the sites. They were then distributed by ACS teams to the designated families in the five most affected parishes. ACS-operated multi-agency warehouses were utilized to store the kitchen kits securely prior to distribution.

Overall, this was a very successful project in assisting families in need following the flooding. Adventist Community Services appreciates the Grant funds provided by ADRA. This project would not have been possible without this assistance. We also would like to acknowledge all of the volunteers, workers, and staff of the Disaster Response Team for their continued dedicated efforts in the Recovery process.

Perryville Tornado Relief

The devastating EF-4 tornado that struck Perryville last week has left dozens of people injured, around 180 homes destroyed, and one dead. Travis Koenig, who was driving along Interstate 55 with his friend, was killed in a fatal crash caused by the tornado. The city of Perryville and the county have an active COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), so the local response has been tremendously strong and organized. 

Over the weekend, Montana Conference ACS DR Team assisted with the Relief by providing about 20 Ambassadors to staff the Multi Agency Resource Center (MARC) that was held in Perryville last Sabbath. These volunteers have become well known and respected for their dedicated service of providing greeting and guidance through the process of 'Emotional and Spiritual Care' for the impacted survivors. They worked in conjunction with several local agencies to coordinate water and food distribution, and to donate cleanup items for the Perryville community.

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