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Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
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ISLIP, N.Y. – As the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, Southern
Baptists continue to bring help, healing and hope to hundreds of people in New
York and New Jersey affected by the Oct. 29, 2012 storm.
“For so many people, life has gone on but there are
pockets of individuals who still have great needs,” said Mickey Caison, Southern
Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) recovery coordinator and director for Sandy
Rebuild. The initiative is a partnership that includes the North American
Mission Board (NAMB) and North Carolina Baptist Men working in cooperation with
the Baptist Convention of New York, Metro New York Baptist Association, New
Jersey Net and local churches throughout North America to repair and help
restore communities, not only physically but also spiritually, said Caison.
Almost two years later with 11, 278 volunteers giving
$14 million in volunteer hours to assist 3,160 homeowners, needs are still
being met, he said. Caison stresses that while things may appear back to normal
on the outside many residents are living in damaged homes in need of repair.
One of the brightest spots for the entire rebuild
efforts has been the Christmas and spring break participation of college
students. Caison is hopeful more students will return to the work as winter
breaks begin later this year.
“What resonates with the community is that we are
still here,” said Bill Johnson,
Rebuild project coordinator. “They ask us, ‘Why are you still here?’”
recently within one week, 20 additional residents have requested help. Most are
elderly, widows or widowers living alone in deteriorated homes. They did not
seek help early on through various programs and fell through the cracks, he
Johnson and his wife, Donna, have
served with SBDR since the day after Sandy struck. The storm surge dumped up to
eight feet of water in some areas, which damaged thousands of homes along the
New York and New Jersey coasts. The couple are members of Liberty Missionary
Baptist Church in Cannonsburg, Ky. Johnson said volunteers are needed for
construction and general home repair, from hanging sheetrock to painting and
cleaning. Team leaders and cooks are also in demand.
Recently, the American Red Cross and
the New York Institute of Technology helped make resources available for the
work to continue through August 2015. Community leaders upon learning that SBDR
was planning to leave at year’s end requested the team to stay on, said Fritz
Wilson, executive director for Disaster Relief at NAMB.
“It’s an affirmation the effectiveness
of the SBDR organization in doing this kind of work,” said Wilson. “Southern
Baptists approach disaster relief service as a marathon not a sprint.”
Wilson credits the volunteers with not
only their level of skill but with “the heart and passion they bring to helping
families get back into their homes.”
As the community got to know volunteers,
Caison said it has been receptive. “One of the comments I keep hearing over and
over here is, ‘Your volunteers are so loving and kind.’”
Caison said the return of college
student volunteers is always a high point on the project. Over two Christmas
and two spring breaks, 1,200 collegiate volunteers served, living in a tent
city on Staten Island. The students who came from 30 states and who served with
105 teams from 93 campuses or churches logged 70,417 volunteer hours with a
value of $1.4 million. The students also witnessed 26 professions of faith.
SBDR plans for the return of college students in
December and again in the spring based at New York Institute of Technology.
Students interested in volunteering with Sandy Rebuild can learn more at www.namb.net/sandy
Caison said the way in which the students and
seasoned SBDR volunteers worked together was impressive. He says he is encouraged also by the commitment
of NAMB president Kevin Ezell to involve college students and support those
“We are seeing God at work here. We are looking
forward to the coming year and how He is going to use the SBDR ministry to
touch the lives and hearts of many people,” said Caison.
Southern Baptist volunteers, 11,278
strong, have served 1.9 million meals, completed 3,164 jobs, shared the gospel
851 times and witnessed 141 professions of faith since Superstorm Sandy made
landfall. To date, volunteers have served from 31
states and two provinces.
To volunteer or learn more about Sandy Rebuild visit www.namb.net/sandy. To view a related video, visit bit.ly/SandySBDR.
Laura Sikes, an Alexandria, Va., based freelance
writer and photographer, writes for the North American Mission Board.
Date Created: 9/17/2014 11:10:27 AM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC