Click here for the One Year Update (pdf) and watch the video below.
See worldrenew.net/volunteer for all opportunities.
Click here sign up to receive the monthly Opportunity link that will alert you to the latest updates and most timely opportunities.
To learn details about the types of disaster response volunteer opportunities, visit worldrenew.net/aboutdrs.
Feel free to call 800-848-5818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
6 Months After
Six Month Update Available: After the Hurricanes
Click HERE to meet Linda, Angel, Julia, and Amelia, hurricane survivors who met or were served by World Renew DRS volunteers during reconstruction and needs assessments.
What has been and what will be happening?
In the first six months after the hurricanes, your donations to World Renew have already
• Provided home repair services in eight communities in Texas and Puerto Rico
• Connected 480 individuals and families with local support to help them in their recovery in Florida and Texas through unmet needs assessments.
• Helped 26 families clean-out their damaged homes.
• Set strong foundations throughout Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico to provide long-term recovery services for hurricane survivors and their communities.
• Provided financial grants to local recovery groups
Recovery will take months for some survivors. For others, it will be years. Because of the magnitude of the destruction, combined with how widespread a geographic area the hurricanes hit, World Renew anticipates being involved in recovery efforts for three years or more throughout Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
The generous donations given after the storms will provide support and needs assessments for local recovery groups as they assist the survivors in their communities meeting their own identified needs whether they be personal, construction, and/ or household needs. The need for help with home repairs will be ongoing for the next several years and World Renew and its volunteers will be there for as long as possible to help survivors who would not otherwise be able to fix their home.
Click here to meet just a few of the hurricane survivors who met World Renew DRS volunteers during reconstruction and needs assessments.
“We are happy to have been able to give significant financial grants to local recovery groups in Texas and Puerto Rico,” said Bob Laarman, director of World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS). “We trust these grants will be a catalyst to propel these organizations forward, a starting point in which to seek additional funding, and an encouragement to their mission.”
From September – December 2017, World Renew volunteers gave almost 3,000 hours of help to clean-up heavily flooded homes in Port Arthur. Thank you to Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Port Arthur for allowing us into your community to support your recovery efforts.
An important part of disaster recovery is trying to make sure that survivors who live with a vulnerability or limitation (income, physical, or otherwise) are not forgotten but rather are offered support to aid them in their own recovery. World Renew’s unmet needs assessment helps identify vulnerable survivors by systematically surveying disaster-affected communities. Twenty-two trained volunteers carried out an assessment in two locations of Brazoria County in January 2018. This was the first of numerous anticipated needs assessments in Texas.
World Renew is currently coordinating home repair mission trips for over 60 different churches and schools to Texas specifically. This could not be done without local organizations in the Harvey area who are dedicated to their community recovery. Thank you for hosting our volunteers.
Some of these groups will be working at the World Renew facilitated site in Port Arthur where DRS facilitators are on site to provide housing and work coordination, as well as orientation.
Regional managers have spent many hours meeting with communities to determine when and where World Renew could be of service. The first unmet needs assessment in response to Hurricane Irma is taking place in Immokalee in February. World Renew volunteers will meet with survivors to conduct one-on-one interviews recording the survivors’ experience with the disaster and their needs and assets. The community recovery group then uses this information to assist the survivor in meeting his or her identified needs whether they be personal, construction, and/or household needs.
Churches and schools are also eager to help repair homes in Florida. At least fifteen groups are making plans with World Renew to serve across Irma impacted areas.
Staff and regional managers have made two trips to Puerto Rico to coordinate recovery efforts with local organizations. There are many details to arrange such as housing, transportation, meals, construction specifications, coordinating work projects, managing the language barrier, and more. The first team of reconstruction volunteers are in Mayaguez in February. World Renew is grateful to be working with the Seventh Day Adventists in Mayaguez. World Renew is also seeking ways to come alongside a formerly Christian Reformed Church in Fajardo that is committed to helping their community recover.
Ongoing and Behind the Scenes
Ever since the hurricanes hit, World Renew regional managers and staff have been actively monitoring the recovery situations, traveling through the impacted areas to meet with local and federal officials, and offering services to recovering communities. These services include those mentioned here as well as building estimating and training for recovery groups.
The hurricanes have spurred many people to compassion with financial gifts as well as a heart to volunteer hands-on. Dozens and dozens of individuals and churches have reached out to World Renew to plan their 2018 volunteer efforts. Currently, 150 church, school, and family groups are planning their mission trips with World Renew. World Renew DRS also saw a marked increase in the number of individual volunteers. Some of these new volunteers are going to hurricane-impacted areas; many others are going to World Renew sites where volunteers have already been busy repairing homes in West Virginia, North Carolina, non-Harvey areas in Texas, Mississippi, California, and more.
The Months and Years Ahead
Recovery is going to take months for some survivors. For others, it will be years. Because of the magnitude of the destruction, combined with how widespread a geographic area the hurricanes hit, World Renew anticipates being involved in recovery efforts for three years or more in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The generous donations given after the storms will provide support and needs assessments for local recovery groups, and home repairs for survivors with limitations who will not be able to fix their home without assistance.
November 27, 2017
Schools across the United States have found creative and engaging ways to support hurricane survivors.
- Trinity Christian School in Elmhurst, Illinois dedicated all the proceeds from food and ticket sales at a soccer game to hurricane support.
- Preschoolers at Jenison Christian School in Jenison, Michigan were given 10 pennies and tasked with asking family and friends to trade them a penny for something larger: a quarter, a dollar, a twenty dollar bill.
- Freemont Christian School in Freemont, Michigan held an art competition and cake walk; click here to read about this particular event.
“We were hoping to send volunteers to help with home repairs before Christmas,” said Bob Laarman. “But once in Puerto Rico and talking with several Christian organizations, we were asked to wait because they were not ready to host volunteers from the mainland U.S. Now that we are back in Michigan, we will continue to communicate with these organizations, and we hope to put plans in place soon to make inroads there after the new year." Click here to continue reading...
Florida and Texas
Regional managers for World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) are spending weeks in Florida and Texas meeting with dozens of community leaders, pastors, LTRGs and FEMA VALs offering services such as building estimating, unmet needs assessments, and reconstruction services. As communities are now able to start setting their sights on the next phase of recovery, communities are beginning to request World Renew services.
Many churches are planning their 2018 mission trips with World Renew to repair hurricane-damaged homes in Texas and Florida. To find volunteer opportunities for you, your family, school, or church, visit worldrenew.net/volunteer.
Find photos from the hurricane response by clicking here to visit our Facebook page.
November 13, 2017 - In Puerto Rico
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, we learned a lot. With FEMA at their main Puerto Rican office, we learned that the country is still in early response mode in several ways. Although food and water needs are less acute, the electricity and washed out road and bridge issues are still very problematic.
We've met with nonprofits here that are responding, learning who is doing what, and where the current needs are. We also spent quality time with pastors of a Reformed Church of Puerto Rico. They have been serving their neighbors and want to do more," says Bob Laarman, director for World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS). Pictured: Husband and wife pastors in the Reformed Church of Puerto Rico (left and center), she is the first Reformed woman pastor in the country, with DRS regional manager, Len Blauwkamp.
Pictured: Husband and wife pastors in the Reformed Church of Puerto Rico (left and center), she is the first Reformed woman pastor in the country, with DRS regional manager, Len Blauwkamp.
Pictured: Visiting the town of Mayaquez on the west coast and meeting with the organizations who are serving their community here.
September 20 - October 31, 2017 Updates
OCTOBER 31, 2017
Click here to meet Kevin and Leola from Texas, learn what's happening in Lee County, Florida and Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
OCTOBER 10, 2017
Find an update on all three hurricane responses, with photos, by clicking here.
HURRICANE MARIA - PUERTO RICO & US VIRGIN ISLANDS
September 26: World Renew calls for a prayer alert.
HURRICANE IRMA - FLORIDA
September 20: “We don’t have initial damage estimates yet but we know there are areas that will need World Renew’s help.”...click here to read more.
HURRICANE HARVEY - TEXAS
September 20: Click here to meet Ella from Port Arthur. World Renew DRS volunteers are helping her and others in Port Arthur with the daunting task of cleaning up after Harvey.
Click here for a video from DRS Director Bob Laarman while in Texas.
September 6, 2017 - Laying the foundation after Harvey and a message from Texas regarding donations and volunteers
Update, September 6, 2017
On Monday, September 11, I (Bob) leave for a week in and around Houston to connect with government officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other disaster response organizations, and local churches. Mark and Carol Martin, very experienced disaster response volunteers from Iowa, will be with me on the trip. They will stay an additional week to continue setting the foundation of our response.
World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) has years of experience in this work and years of working in partnership with FEMA and other organizations. Much of this trip will be reconnecting with past partners as well as meeting new people to start planning for long-term recovery.
The area affected by Hurricane Harvey is very large. One key task is to begin to define where the DRS response areas might be located. We look for underserved communities. Often these communities are outside easy access and away from the spotlight of news cameras.
One trip will not answer all the questions or complete all the work to plan for a long term response. More trips to Texas will happen. And there will be many conference calls and emails with people and organizations to keep updated. It takes time and effort to stay coordinated, but it makes for a more successful and effective ministry in the long run.
FEMA reported on September 6 that, “Response and recovery efforts continue… Long-duration flooding will significantly hamper response and recovery activities….over 135,000 homes affected…over 22,000 homes may have major damage (over 5 feet of inundation).” Those numbers are early estimates that are expected to rise.
You can imagine that with this number of homes and families affected, many volunteers will be needed in the months to come.
A REQUEST FROM TEXAS
We at World Renew have had many generous offers of donated clothing and other items. We are grateful for your compassion! However, we have been asked not to send items to Texas. Please see the below for a message we received from the State of Texas, FEMA, and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD, of which World Renew is a member).
Important Information on Donations
The overwhelming generosity of the public is greatly appreciated, however, the influx of donated items exceeds the needs of the impacted communities at this time. Therefore, the State of Texas is asking that you please DO NOT donate unsolicited goods such as used clothing, miscellaneous household items, medicine, or perishable foodstuffs at this time.
As we continue to receive unsolicited donations, supporting agencies must redirect staff and volunteers away from providing direct services to survivors in order to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.
If you have already collected items for Hurricane Harvey, please consider donating them to a nonprofit organization in your community that accepts in-kind donations, or register in-kind donations here. If you are a company seeking to donate goods to the Hurricane Harvey efforts, please fill out the form for Corporate Donations located here. This information will be sent to the appropriate parties as needs arise.
The most effective way for individuals and private sector partners to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations. Cash donations offer voluntary agencies and faith-based organizations the most flexibility to address urgently developing needs, as well as needs that arise over the coming months and years. With cash in hand, these organizations can obtain needed resources locally which will help local economies recover.
Important Information on Volunteering
The State of Texas continues to experience flooding, and the situation may not be conducive to volunteers entering the impacted areas. Spontaneous or unaffiliated volunteers who self-deploy may create an additional burden on impacted communities where resources for food and shelter are scarce. The State of Texas is asking potential volunteers to register with a voluntary or charitable organization of their choice, many of which are already in Texas supporting survivors on the ground…
Your financial donations today (US$/CND$) are crucial to ensure help (clean-up, assessments, home repairs) can be provided months down the road.
Please stay tuned for volunteer opportunities, not only in response to Hurricane Harvey but to past disasters that still need attention. To learn about World Renew DRS opportunities and updates as they arise, sign up for our once a month Opportunity Link email by clicking here.
Thank you for your generous support and prayers for the people affected by Harvey.
Sincerely in Christ,
World Renew Disaster Response Services
Interested in learning more about this ministry? Visit worldrenew.net/drs
August 28, 2017 - Helping After Harvey: immediate donations, churches, volunteering, plans, etc. The last few days...
Dear friends and volunteers,
The last few days have been filled with media interviews, phone calls, emails, and updates regarding Hurricane Harvey. I would like to share a few things with you because I am sure you have questions.
- Yes, financial donations and your church offering designated to Hurricane Harvey are most welcome! This is a storm of incredible magnitude and we will be responding for years to come. Click here to learn more.
As far as donating in-kind items such as clothing, water, food... after 45 years in this work, we have learned that the most efficient and effective donations are financial ones. It might not be "as exciting," but let me explain. By giving financially you are ensuring that resources are available and flexible to meet the exact needs of the people affected. By giving financially you are putting more resources to direct support rather than shipping and storing items. By giving financially you are adding to the economic recovery of Texas businesses because supplies can be purchased locally.
- Churches: A bulletin announcement with a printable bulletin insert and request for offerings is going out today or tomorrow to Christian Reformed Churches. These inserts are also available to download. Feel free to use this information in your church, no matter the denominational affiliation.
- I (Bob Laarman), along with our regional managers, will be heading to the Houston and Corpus Christie areas to start coordinating the response. We've done work in both of these cities in the not-so-distant past, so we will start with those contacts. I and others in World Renew DRS have been in contact with churches, individuals, and organizations in Texas, monitoring the situation and making plans on who to connect with during our time there.
- Volunteers: The storm is still raining and waters are still sitting so volunteers cannot go in to help with clean-up yet. You will be alerted to opportunities through the Opportunity Link. To sign up for these emails, please click here. We all want to head out right now to Texas, but please remember, they have thousands of local people to feed and shelter and they are still in the middle of the crisis. Once they are ready to host and coordinate out-of-town volunteers, we will let you know. Thank you for trusting us!
If you or someone you know wants to volunteer to help, please consider volunteering for one of our other disaster response opportunities found at worldrenew.net/volunteer. Then, when the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey are ready for volunteers, you can volunteer again!
- We do currently have two reconstruction sites in Texas set to open in several weeks, one in San Marcos and one in Rio Grande Valley. Neither has been impacted by Harvey and both are in response to flooding from 2015. (This gives you an idea the longevity of flood response efforts.)
- Check out some media mentions of World Renew DRS:
Follow us on Facebook for ongoing updates.
Thank you for your support and please keep the people in Texas and Louisiana in your prayers.
If you have any questions, please call 800-848-5818 or email email@example.com.
Sincerely in Christ,
World Renew Disaster Response Services