Arkansas Conference Disaster Response, AR VOAD give updated numbers on Arkansas River Flood response

Arkansas Conference Disaster Response, AR VOAD give updated numbers on Arkansas River Flood response

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Disaster Response team, as well as the Arkansas chapter of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), are continuing their efforts to assist families and homes affected by the historic Arkansas River flood of 2019.

So far, there have been nine volunteer training days held across the state in areas most affected by the flooding. Some of these areas include Dardanelle, Conway, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Monticello, Dumas, and Batesville.

In total, more than 250 volunteers have signed up to assist families and individuals with “mucking out” their homes. Mucking out is the process of tearing out carpeting, sheetrock and other parts of a home damaged by water that has entered a building.

“There are still areas we haven’t been able to get into yet,” said Byron Mann, Arkansas Conference Disaster Response Co-Coordinator.

Mann estimates that with the help of Arkansas Disaster Relief volunteers, they are saving homeowners anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 in clean out costs. This is only a fraction of the cost of rebuilding a damaged home, but any opportunity to save the homeowner money can make a big difference.

Even though turnout has been good, Mann said they are needing additional volunteers to sign up for training days and help muck out the hundreds of homes still in need of clean up. To sign up to volunteer, visit www.eiseverywhere.com/volunteersignup.

They are also hoping to continue raising money that will be used to assist people in rebuilding their lives once the clean up process is complete. The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church has raised $15,000 in donations since late May. Mann hopes to continue receiving donations to reach their goal of $100,000.

“This is a long-term process and by the end of it, we hope to have touched hundreds of lives by assisting in the cleanup process,” Mann said.

To donate online, visit bit.ly/arumc-donate and select the first box, “Arkansas Disaster Relief,” to give to families affected by the Arkansas River flood.

Service-Learning Trips Engage, Inspire Hendrix College Students
Helping others in Rwanda and New York City provides opportunities for growth

Hendrix students who traveled to New York City. Front row: Nina Faidley ’20, Harper Purifoy ’19, Chelsea Flowers ’21
Middle row: Christine Donakey ’21, Brittany Chue ’21, Christina Choh ’19, Audrey Mutoni ’22, and director of student activities Tonya Hale.
Back row: Lexie Burleson ’21, biology professor J.D. Gantz.

CONWAY, Ark. (June 18, 2019) – Two groups of Hendrix College students, faculty, and staff began summer break with service-learning trips to New York City and Rwanda, where their experiences serving others led them to learn more about themselves and the world.

Organized by the Hendrix College Office of Religious Life and sponsored by the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling, service-learning trips welcome individuals from any faith tradition or non-religious perspective. Participating students work on projects that benefit communities experiencing material or social disadvantages while building relationships with those they serve. Students also spend time exploring their own values and social concerns, beliefs and commitments, gifts and limitations through guided discussions and journal writing.

“Service-learning trips give students an opportunity to connect with cultures and people who hold different perspectives of the world,” said the Rev. J.J. Whitney ’96, chaplain and director of the Office of Religious Life for the College. “Through service that leads to significant interactions in the community, students continue to discern their vocations, discovering how their gifts and passions can make a difference in meeting the needs of our time.”

The New York City trip was coordinated through Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP), a Quaker organization grounded in the Quaker values of respect, simplicity, and service with students from any faith or belief system and those who do not ascribe to any faith. Director of student activities Tonya Hale and biology professor Dr. J.D. Gantz led this trip, which included students Lexie Burleson ’21, Christina Choh ’19, Brittany Chue ’21, Christine Donakey ’21, Nina Faidley ’20, Chelsea Flowers ’21, Audrey Mutoni ’22, and Harper Purifoy ’19. The group spent their days serving at soup kitchens, organizing supply closets for shelters, distributing food and toiletries, and tutoring young readers in an elementary school. Evenings and the week’s end brought opportunities to see the sights of New York City.

“This service-learning trip ignited a new passion to serve that I never knew was in me,” Flowers said. “Typically, as Americans, we see the homeless as more of an object of misfortune rather than an actual person. We tell the homeless what they need to survive in society without much concern for providing that aid.”

Flowers embraced the change in perspective the trip brought her, and recommends that others take advantage of similar opportunities. “I promise you that learning things about someone’s experience will leave a lasting impact on you and them, and it may teach you some things. Be open to that,” she said. “The little things truly go a long way for people, and this trip helped me realize that. I am forever grateful for it.”

The second service-learning group traveled to Gashora, a small village in rural South Rwanda, to spend a week at Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST), a long-standing partner with Hendrix College. During lunch, Hendrix students interacted with GGAST students and talked with them about the U.S. college experience. In the mornings and afternoons, the group volunteered with Dihiro Public School, which serves primary and secondary students. They worked with teachers and students of Dihiro to strengthen English language instruction there, and at week’s end, they watched the Dihiro English Club hold a debate on the topic of unplanned teen pregnancy.

Rwanda group photo, from left:
Trip guide/host Paul Ruganintwali, director of ESOL and International Student Services Gwen Stockwell, politics and environmental studies professor Peter Gess, psychology professor Jennifer Penner, summer intern Hannah Henderson ’20, Greer Ayers ’22, trip guide/host Joan Umwiza, summer intern Hannah Eldred ’21, summer intern Reagan Kilgore ’20, Sumaira Sardar ’21, Aleck Bratt ’20, and Alex Scott ’20.

Before returning to the U.S., the group engaged with Rwanda’s history of genocide and reconciliation, and took some time to explore Akagera National Park by safari.

Dr. Peter Gess, a politics and environmental studies professor, and Gwen Stockwell, director of ESOL and International Student Services, led the Rwanda trip. Hendrix students Greer Ayers ’22, Aleck Bratt ’20, Sumaira Sardar ’21, and Alexandra Scott ’20 participated, and were assisted by Dr. Jennifer Penner, a Hendrix psychology professor who spent part of her recent sabbatical teaching at GGAST, and by Hannah Eldred ’21, Hannah Henderson ’20, and Reagan Kilgore ’20, Hendrix students completing summer internships at GGAST.

“Our teaching topics included various aspects of grammar, vocabulary, and literature, as well as lesson-planning,” Gess said. “We also trained the teachers on the use of technology—the LCD projector we donated was so happily received!”

“Rwanda is full of beautiful people whose smiles are contagious and whose joy is infectious,” said Ayers. “I am so thankful for this experience from the Miller Center, as it has once again allowed me to experience cross-cultural servanthood as a way of deepening my understanding of the world and all the beautiful things it has to offer.”

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.

Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD) Joins Partners in Opening Resource Center for Disaster Survivors in Conway

Media contact:
Amy Ezell, Public Information Officer
amy.ezell@arumc.org
870-761-1580

Conway, AR (JUNE 18, 2019) – The Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD) group is partnering with other local disaster assistance organizations to open a “one-stop shop” for survivors of Arkansas River flooding.

The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 25 at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 2310 East Oak Street, Conway.

Trained English and Spanish-speaking caseworkers will be available at the MARC to help people create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork, and locate assistance for their specific disaster-caused needs, such as assistance for groceries, rent, medicine and other items or services.  Representatives from government, nonprofit, and faith-based disaster relief organizations will also be on hand at the MARC to assist disaster survivors.

Organizations and agencies such as the Adventist Community Services, American Red Cross, Arkansas Baptist State Convention Disaster Relief, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas United Methodist Disaster Response, Arkansas Episcopal Disaster Relief, Catholic Charities of Arkansas, The Salvation Army, United Way and more will be there to offer services to those affected by the Arkansas River flood disaster.

“AR VOAD is proud to join our partners in Central Arkansas to help survivors of the recent flooding navigate the road to recovery,” said Rhonda Sanders, Chair of Arkansas VOAD. “Already, this community has pulled together to help their neighbors affected by the Arkansas River flood and the AR VOAD will continue to be here to help people in the weeks and months to come.”

Individuals and families applying for assistance are reminded to bring identification showing address and verification of residence to be eligible for assistance from some agencies.

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ARVOAD is a humanitarian association of independent voluntary organizations who may be active in all phases of disaster. Its mission is to foster efficient, streamlined service delivery to people affected by disaster, while eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort, through cooperation in the four phases of disaster: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD) Joins Partners in Opening Resource Center for Disaster Survivors in Pine Bluff

Media contact:
Amy Ezell, Public Information Officer
amy.ezell@arumc.org
870-761-1580

PINE BLUFF, AR (JUNE 20, 2019) – The Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD) group is partnering with other local disaster assistance organizations to open a “one-stop shop” for survivors of Arkansas River flooding.

The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 and Friday, June 21 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center, 211 W. Third Ave., Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601. There will be a single location offering assistance for impacted communities in Jefferson, Desha and Arkansas Counties.

Trained English and Spanish-speaking caseworkers will be available at the MARC to help people create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork, and locate assistance for their specific disaster-caused needs, such as assistance for groceries, rent, medicine and other items or services.  Representatives from government, nonprofit, and faith-based disaster relief organizations will also be on hand at the MARC to assist disaster survivors.

Organizations and agencies such as the Adventist Community Services, American Red Cross, Arkansas Baptist State Convention Disaster Relief, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas United Methodist Disaster Response, Arkansas Episcopal Disaster Relief, Catholic Charities of Arkansas, The Salvation Army, United Way and more will be there to offer services to those affected by the Arkansas River flood disaster.

“AR VOAD is proud to join our partners in Southeast Arkansas to help survivors of the recent flooding navigate the road to recovery,” said Rhonda Sanders, Chair of Arkansas VOAD. “Already, this community has pulled together to help their neighbors affected by the Arkansas River flood and the AR VOAD will continue to be here to help people in the weeks and months to come.”

Individuals and families applying for assistance are reminded to bring identification showing address and verification of residence to be eligible for assistance from some agencies.

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ARVOAD is a humanitarian association of independent voluntary organizations who may be active in all phases of disaster. Its mission is to foster efficient, streamlined service delivery to people affected by disaster, while eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort, through cooperation in the four phases of disaster: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Africa University to hold 25th Graduation Ceremony on June 8

MUTARE, ZIMBABWE: – More than 600 students from 17 African countries are expected to graduate during the 25th commencement ceremony at Africa University on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the campus in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe.

“Africa University continues to be the beckon of hope on the continent as our students return to their countries to contributes in various sectors, ” said Vice Chancellor Professor Munashe Furusa. “We are grateful for the support from our sponsors and all conferences throughout the world.”

During the graduation ceremony, hundreds of bachelor’s and dozens of master’s degrees will be handled out. Students from the College of Business, Peace, Leadership & Governance (CBPLG) account for more than half of the class.

The class of 2019 will also include Dr. Kenjiro Yamada who is being awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contributions to Africa University’s development.

Dr. Yamada’s career spans almost five decades in Methodist education, including more than 30 years of leadership at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM).

The keynote address speaker will be Rev. Greg Bergquist, GBHEM interim general secretary.

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About Africa University: Africa University, a United Methodist-related institution, aspires to become a world class university f or leadership development in Africa.