Saipan Rebuild Program

Our first program in partnership with FEMA on the island of Saipan has started this week. We had been in discussion with FEMA over the past few months on a Rebuild program post Typhoon Yutu that struck Saipan and Tinian last October. The Greater New York and Northeastern ACS DR teams who assisted with the Rebuild programs in Florida and North Carolina after hurricanes Michael and Florence touched down in those areas last year, has volunteered to assist on Saipan. A group of around 30 individuals will be involved in this 4-week Rebuild program which will run through April 26th.

Our volunteers will be divided into three teams. The Assessment Team which will consist of eight members will be deployed in the first week. They will outline the areas on the island where they need to concentrate their efforts, in consultation with FEMA. In the second week, another ten-member Team will join the Assessment Team to begin working onsite replacing roofs, windows, doors, and other repairs. The third Team will join in the last phase of the Program to continue the needed work. Our Hawaii ACS Director, Gerry Mota, is working with the local ACS DR Team to get them better prepared to serve the affected community. Currently, we have about 30 individuals who are certified in Emotional and Spiritual Care who we hope to connect with the local community to provide care and counseling.

ACS Responds to Historic Flooding in Midwest

Historic flooding over the past few days caused by torrential rain and snowmelt have ravaged communities in the Midwest. This record-breaking disaster resulting in four deaths and mass destruction has forced thousands to evacuate. A state of emergency has been declared in Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In Nebraska alone, 89 cities have issued declarations which cover more than 80 percent of the State.

Our Nebraska ACS Director, Rick Young, has partnered with Salvation Army to operate the State Distribution Warehouse in Lincoln that will serve the affected communities. ACS is handling the donations tracking, while Salvation Army is running the warehouse. The State is asking all those who want to offer assistance in cleanup to go through Salvation Army by calling 402-898-6050 or visiting You can also contact the SDA churches in the affected areas to provide help. Our Missouri ACS DR Team worked in coordination with the Missouri Emergency Management Agency to provide aid to the city of St. Joseph. They joined hands with AmeriCorps St. Louis, Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief, and the Missouri Department of Corrections on the sandbagging operations.

Deadly Tornado Outbreak Hits the South

Update - March 20, 2019

The local Emergency Management in Lee County, Alabama, was able to secure a 80,000 square foot Warehouse for us to lead and operate. Ray Elsberry, Gulf States ACS Director, is leading in this Effort and is being assisted by Lillie Buckingham and Barbara Barnes, South Central ACS DR Directors. They are working hard to open this facility which will run seven days a week. Forklifts and vital equipment were obtained over the weekend. Other supplies are being delivered and a team is being formed presently. It appears that the doors will be open to receive donations in one or two days. We have created a Needs List for those who would like to assist by donating supplies through Amazon, for the Warehouse.

In addition to Alabama, Georgia was struck by a series of Tornadoes on the same day. Our Georgia-Cumberland ACS DR Team led by Rhonda Haight and John Vauldurzen was managing a Warehouse in Talbotton. Since the damage in Georgia was less severe than Alabama, we had to close operations after a week.

Update - March 11, 2019

It has now been over a week since the series of tornadoes struck the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Michigan. The local conferences continue to be engaged in the Recovery Efforts. Our DR Team from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, led by Rhonda Haight, is presently operating a Multi-Agency Warehouse in Georgia. In Michigan, the local NGOs have set up Distribution sites to serve the community. We have been in communication with the South Atlantic and Gulf States conferences, discussing efforts focusing on creating a flow of goods that can be distributed to those affected. A church in each of the two conferences has been found viable to serve as a Distribution site or housing for volunteers.

We are also serving in Lee County, Alabama, by providing assistance in the Warehouse that is being run by United Cajun Navy, a local NGO. We informed them of our willingness to work within the structure they desired and of the resources at our disposal like workers, facilities, and knowledge. They were extremely appreciative and requested if we would assess the functionality of the Warehouse. ACS Directors Ray Elsberry of Gulf States and Derrick Lane of South Central were identified as the contact people for these efforts.

Each of these efforts is being managed by local ACS DR teams. The NAD offers support and stays in communication as much as possible. Sometimes we are able to work onsite directly with our teams and other times we contact them via phone calls. In either case, our intent is to encourage their tremendous efforts. This fact was highlighted by South Central holding a new pilot class at Oakwood University in Collections and Emergency Distribution Sites, led by Lillie Buckingham and Barbara Barnes. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS DR Director, joined them to co-teach this new course to over 200 people from four different conferences (Kentucky Tennessee, Georgia Cumberland, Southeastern, and South Central). The session ended with a gala on Sabbath evening where Derrick expressed his gratitude and deep appreciation for the effective work of our local ACS DR teams in serving their community.

A tornado that touched down in Alabama this past Sunday, March 3, has been declared as the deadliest one in the State since 2013. Georgia, the Panhandle area in Florida, and parts of South Carolina were also affected by this violent storm. At least 23 deaths have been reported in Lee County, Alabama.

We have reached out to our local Conferences, South Central and Gulf States, to discuss ways on how we can collaborate to serve the needs of the survivors. The North American Division stands at the ready to help as appropriate and both Conferences have indicated a willingness to work together for the good of the community. The South Central and Gulf States conferences currently have their Disaster Response Teams on the ground conducting field assessments to ascertain how much damage has taken place. Based on these initial reports, we will determine how ACS DR can be of assistance.

Blessings on Christmas Day

The Community Services Team of New Life Adventist Church in Chicago met early Christmas morning at the church to set up to feed people from the community. Upon arrival, they noticed that some guests had already showed up. The Team, led by Dollie Williams, hurried and prayerfully took on the tasks of the activity. Sister Williams said, "It brought tears to my eyes to see so many people coming seeking a meal so early in the morning on Christmas!"

The Team was ready for action! They had prepared a full Christmas meal, "Soul food" accented with "Mississippi sweet potato pies". The food was already hot as it was freshly prepared, so they rushed and started serving. The faster they served the more people came until the room filled up to overflowing. However, the people didn't complain. They took chairs and set them up in the hallways to rest their plates while they ate. They were even allowed carryouts. The Team also had a nurse on duty throughout the event.

What a blessing it was for the guests, as well as for the volunteers. Sister Williams is grateful for all the members that gave donations to help with the meal. She also appreciates the efforts of those that helped to prepare the meal and those that helped to serve the meal. The youth of the church also took part in this event. They usually go out on the streets to serve the homeless people once they are done serving meals at the church, but due to the request of the guests to take meals to homebound people, they refrained from going to the streets. However, they gave gifts to all the guests, both adults and children. At the end of the day, there were over 100 carryout meals!

Emotional & Spiritual Care Session at NAD

The first ACS Emotional & Spiritual Care session at the North American Division headquarters was held on December 11-12, 2018. It was conducted by W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS Disaster Response Director. Twenty-six pastors, lay members, and community service leaders took advantage of this opportunity which provided participants needed practical skills for critical incident response. The majority of participants were from the Chesapeake, Allegheny East, and Allegheny West conferences.

The session started out with the 2-hour ‘Special Issues in Emotional & Spiritual Care’ class which was followed by the 13-hour ‘Assisting Individuals in Crisis’ class forming a joint 2-day intensive program. Derrick presented useful tools and techniques on how to assess and reach people in various critical situations to meet their immediate needs. The session consisted of interactive lectures, group activities, videos, and role-play scenarios. Participants also shared stories and experiences of their encounters with individuals in crisis, and how they addressed their concerns. The session ended with the participants receiving their certificates, followed by a brief speech by Elder Debra Brill, NAD Vice President for Ministries, who addressed the attendees and also appreciated them for their dedicated service and efforts in community outreach.

The classes were well received. The participants found them to be extremely helpful in enhancing their crisis management skills to respond to individuals affected by a disaster or trauma by providing emotional and spiritual care. One pastor stated, “It is helping prepare me as a community pastor to minister to those who encounter emotional crisis." Another participant said, "These classes provided invaluable information that helps me better to be equipped to serve." The participants are now eligible to become a credentialed ACS Emotional & Spiritual Care Provider I.