An UMVIM volunteer helps paint a flood-damaged home in upper New York after UMCOR provided grants which helped long-term recovery continue. Susan Kim
By Susan Kim*
July 17, 2012-- UMCOR and Volunteers in Mission, both of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, are planning to celebrate their partnership in disaster response with a 2013 summit in Nashville, Tennessee April 22-25, 2013 at Scarritt Bennett Center. More details coming September 15, 2012.
While an official theme is still being decided for the meeting, UMCOR consultant Barbara Tripp noted that the summit will be a milestone since it has been several years since the two groups have met to discuss the strengths of their partnership and areas for improvement.
“There will be some new people on both sides,” said Tripp, “and we will examine how well the collaboration is working in terms of getting volunteer teams placed and then taking care of them as they work.”
Una Jones, who as assistant general secretary for Mission and Evangelism heads up Volunteers in Mission, said she is looking forward to the summit. Her office relates to United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) at the jurisdictional and conference levels.
“Global Ministries’ Mission Volunteers office is co-sponsoring this event to affirm and support this great partnership," she underscored.
Tripp said she anticipates UMCOR and UMVIM representatives will be sharing stories about how the partnership uniquely unfolds in their local areas.
The relationship between UMCOR and UMVIM is dynamic and still in process, reflected Heather Wilson, UMVIM's western jurisdiction coordinator. “That is a positive place to be,” she added. Wilson, Jones, Tripp, and UMCOR’s Tom Hazelwood are the lead planners of the summit.
UMVIM offers training for volunteers and also puts them in touch with communities in need. UMCOR provides consultants to assist and train local people immediately following a disaster, as well as during long-term recovery. In each United Methodist conference, the Bishop may request financial assistance from UMCOR to help communities respond to a disaster.
Immediately after a disaster, Early Response Teams may move into action. These teams have received special training from UMCOR and are credentialed so that they may enter disaster zones.
Then, as disaster-stricken communities move into long-term recovery, that recovery often takes place under the direction of a long-term recovery committee comprised of faith-based, voluntary and civic groups. Just when a disaster fades from the headlines, a community may find itself in need of thousands of hours of volunteer time. For months and sometimes years to come, volunteers may be clearing debris, or repairing and rebuilding homes.
At this phase of disaster recovery, UMVIM teams are often seen at disaster sites, providing not only physical labor but a sense of hope for disaster survivors.
Clarifying the roles of UMCOR and UMVIM will help strengthen the partnership even more, said Tom Hazelwood, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for US Disaster Response.
“I like to say that, in many ways, UMCOR and UMVIM power each other's work,” he said. “As we at UMCOR work to train local communities on disaster response, and provide funding for ongoing recovery, UMVIM teams become the long-term catalyst on the ground.”