Volunteers in Mission / Disaster Response

Disaster Basic Early Response Team (ERT) Training (This training is being held specifically pre-academy as a prerequisite for the ERT Track but anyone interested in Early Response can attend.)
Date: Saturday, January 11, 2020
Time: Gather at 8:30am, class starts promptly at 9:00am and runs until 5:00pm.
Place: Lakewood UMC, 1922 Topf Rd, North Little Rock, AR 72116
Registration fee: $25.00 to cover training materials and lunch.
Register by clicking here.

Click here for Academy details and to register.

We are so excited to announce the Arkansas Conference / UMCOR Disaster Response Academy!
Wednesday, January 29 thru Saturday, February 1 | Trinity United Methodist Church, Little Rock

This Disaster Response Academy at Trinity UMC focuses on preparing to help – because disasters don’t schedule appointments. The goal is to enhance disaster response ministries in the Arkansas Conference. Participants will dive deep into the areas that frame all disaster ministries while affirming or enhancing how our communities, local churches, districts and conference prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.

So…what if disaster response is a way to transform the world for Jesus Christ? Central to the goal of this academy is our desire to grow and enhance the ministry of disaster response for the transformation of Arkansas and beyond. Come prepared to learn, to better understand how disaster response ministry works, and to make response and recovery even better!

Your presence at Trinity UMC on those days during the last week in January is critical! For more details or to register, click here. There you will find a letter of invitation explaining the learning tracks, a logistics document with the details of the event, a schedule for the four days and a description of the classes being offered. Please register early.

This Academy will highlight:

  • The Local Church in Disaster Response Ministry
  • Early Response to Disaster Events
  • Long Term Recovery from Disaster
  • Local Church, District and Conference Leadership and Coordination in Disaster Response

Who should attend:

  • Anyone wanting to know more about disaster response ministries.
  • Volunteers and Potential Volunteers
  • Local Church Representatives
  • Pastors
  • Local Church Disaster Response and Mission & Outreach Coordinators
  • Early Response Team Leaders and Members
  • District Disaster Response Coordinators and Co Coordinators, District Mission Coordinators
  • Disaster Response Committee Members
  • Disaster Response Coordination Team and Key Responders
  • The Bishop, Cabinet, Extended Cabinet, Conference and District Staff

Disaster Recovery Update 10/25/2019

Arkansas River Flooding

The transition from relief to recovery has been daunting after the AR River Flood. There is a wide range of situations in the different areas affected along the river. Long Term Recovery Groups are up and working in the AR/OK River Valley area (6 affected counties) and in Pulaski County. The other areas are on hold or struggling for various reasons. We have developed a Plan B and a Plan C to continue the recovery effort in those areas. Four United Methodist case managers are sharing 2 full time positions to cover 3.5 of five affected areas. There are two additional case managers working in partnership with them to cover the other 1.5. Unmet needs are being identified and resources allocated to meet those needs through the case management process. All this is made possible through donations to the conference and UMCOR after the flood. UMCOR has provided two grants after the flood to support the recovery efforts. Two additional grants were received by the AR Conference as a trusted partner, one of which is designated for use in the four counties affected in Southeast AR. Current river flood recovery work projects include a rebuild in Perry and a replacement that needs access porches and steps in Houston. We are seeking volunteers to help with these two projects. As more projects are ready we will announce the volunteer needs through email and Facebook posts as well as conference communications.

Other Updates

A roof has been replaced on a home in Sebastian County after the tornado there back in the spring. Two Boone County tornado home replacements have been built. We have had teams and partners working there. The Jefferson County tornado and Marion County tornado projects have closed with all identified needs met. Flash flooding has affected Crawford, Sebastian and Hempstead Counties since the River flood. One replacement home has been provided in Hempstead and there are three open cases in Crawford/Sebastian.


Update – Arkansas River Flood Update 6/3/2019

Historic, record breaking flooding is occurring in Arkansas along the Arkansas River. It is anticipated that communities along the river through the state will be affected.

We have identified a Conference Disaster Response Coordination Team for the 2019 AR River Flood event as follows:

  • Incident Coordinators – Janice and Byron Mann – disaster@arumc.org, vim@arumc.org
  • Assistant (& Assistance) Coordinators – Shelley and Roy Lee – assistance@arumc.org
  • Logistics (including limited Donations Management) – Tarri Henderson and Rick Gartner
  • Caring Ministry – Sheri Mathews – disastercaring@arumc.org
  • Case Work – Tracy Eichenberger (Partner – Catholic Charities)
  • Volunteer Management – Colleen and Kevin Overholt – volunteer@arumc.org
  • Planning/Training – Janice Mann – disastertraining@arumc.org
  • Administration/Finance – Todd Burris and Megan Rugg of the Conference Office
  • Communications/Public Information Officer – Amy Ezell of the Conference Office – amy.ezell@arumc.org
  • Chaplain for the CCTeam – Mark McDonald and Rick Gartner

A donate button and a volunteer button are set up on arumc.org.  The volunteer button should be used for volunteer registration.  These email addresses are for correspondence.

Disaster and VIM Coordinators have been in contact with our response partners in the Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD) and are staying in touch with local and state government partners as well.  AR VOAD members coordinate efforts to provide the most effective and efficient services to those affected, to avoid duplication of efforts and services and to avoid wasting resources.  It is extremely important to coordinate efforts through the conference so that coordination pieces with other partners are effective.

Just-in-time trainings will be offered in strategic locations along the river near affected areas. These will be abbreviated ERT with necessary components and a thorough training in cleaning out flooded homes. These trainings will not include UMCOR certification.  Temporary conference badges for this event will be issued. This is an attempt to build capacity for this event. The magnitude of this event has prompted this decision. Other areas of our county are experiencing devastating disaster events and volunteer teams are spread thin. Clean-outs will be the primary tasks and providing the caring presence of the church to those affected and hurting will be the primary purpose.

Early Response Teams – This is an “all hands on deck” event. It’s going to take all of us, our partners, and more for the response. We are anticipating to be able to start ERT work possibly June 10th; this gives you time to prepare to deploy. As you well know, this is a wait and see situation. We need our trained and experienced teams to respond first while we get other volunteers trained. We will likely need you all to also offer leadership to these newly trained teams.

Local churches – please engage in your community’s response and the conference response as needed. There will be need for office space, staging areas, volunteer housing and hosting, etc. and you may be asked to provide assistance by your community partners or officials. If you hear of community meetings being held, please let us know and send a representative from your church.

The primary current needs are funding and volunteers. Please solicit both in announcements and updates at your local church over the next weeks.

UMCOR Sager Brown and the Supply network have ample supplies of cleaning buckets and hygiene kits. We have accepted a truck load of those supplies and have them staged at Mayflower and Fort Smith to be distributed along the river as needed. Please rather than making kits; take the funds you would spend and donate it to the Conference Disaster Response fund or UMCOR. Do not collect in-kind goods. Business and corporate partners have stepped up to take care of those items and trucks are arriving at a distribution centers daily.

Thank you to those individuals, teams and churches who are already playing a part in the response. Thank you to the Conference office staff and to the Bishop for the support they are providing. Thank you to UMCOR for supplies, funding, and for equipping us for the task at hand.Watch here and on our Facebook page for more information and announcements.

Early Response Team from Arkansas tarps a home to prevent further damage after Hurricane Michael in Port St. Joe, Florida.

A team from FUMC Rogers in the Northwest District install cabinets in a rebuilt home that was destroyed in the April 2018 Crawford County Tornado.

Current In-Conference projects:

  • Disaster Recovery efforts are ongoing after several events across the state.
  • ECHO Village – construction of homes and facilities, Eureka Springs.

Outside the Arkansas Conference:

  • Any of the flood and tornado devastated areas are continuing relief and recovery efforts
  • The Methodist Church of Puerto Rico has reached out to VIM to request assistance in the ongoing repair/rebuild efforts from Hurricane Maria’s devastation. For more information about team requirements or about registering your team, see the volunteer FAQs and Guidelines or contact Byron Mann at vim@arumc.org.
  • Any of the wildfire, flood, or hurricane devastated areas are continuing recovery efforts.

For a complete list of VIM and DR projects see SCJ Disaster and SCJ Missions. Contact Byron at vim@arumc.org for more information and to schedule.

Upcoming Mission Journeys

Please share your team’s Mission Journey Experience and/or your church’s outreach events here. We would love to know and share what you are doing in service to others.

Local Church, Disaster Response WANTS YOU!
Local church involvement when disaster strikes is vital in assisting individuals and families affected. Disaster Response wants to help local churches understand how important they are as response partners in their community and in this ministry. We would love to come talk to your group, class, or church and begin a partnership that will make a meaningful difference when disaster strikes. Contact Janice at disaster@arumc.org to find out more.

The beginnings of ECHO Village

ECHO Village in Eureka Springs recently added to list of UMVIM approved US Domestic Mission Sites
ECHO Village is a unique concept of community living that is a group of small homes situated close together in which the residents living there work together to help each other in their daily living. The concept is that affordable housing is provided for seniors, handicapped, single parents, homeless, early prison release, veterans, low income individuals who need housing security. There will be a community garden, chickens, playground, community room, classes for parenting, finances, job skills, resume building, etc. Each person commits to helping their neighbors.

These homes will be owned by Eureka Christian Health Outreach (ECHO) and rent at low entry level to enable individuals to get a leg up on their economic situation. The community room will be available for larger gatherings and trainings. It will be a unique community that lives and loves together for the benefit of all.

ECHO Village is a brand new community under construction.  Phase I includes eight houses which are dried in and ready for finish work. Current needs are volunteer work teams especially for finish work on new structures.

For more information or to schedule a work team contact Suzy Bell at mightywarriorrocks@yahoo.com or Byron Mann at vim@arumc.org.

Disaster Response Operation under “Blue Skies”
During the calm, we focus primarily on preparedness so that when disasters come, we are equipped to respond. During this time we are trying to connect with churches that are “go to, getter done” churches to respond when disaster strikes in their community or beyond.

Ideally, these churches would name a disaster response coordinator, commit to having an early response team, and commit to having a series of trainings. These trainings wouldn’t be exclusive- other churches and resources in the area need to be reached to build capacity.

We would love to hear from you or your church and meet with you to discuss this vision of disaster response. Click here for a letter that better explains this vision.

Watch here for more information about projects in the future and connect with us on Facebook for the most current updates. Our page is Volunteers in Mission & Disaster Response – Serving Arkansas & Beyond.