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Volunteers for UMCOR Shaped by Training

Posted: September 8, 2005 Click to Visit Global News.  * Print-friendly

“Know before you go.” That’s the advice of United Methodist Committee on Relief workers to potential volunteers.

United Methodist volunteers have stepped forward in large numbers to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery, not only in the Gulf Coast states slammed by the massive storm but in their home towns hosting evacuees. But their steps are measured, shaped by training and practice before going into the field. Volunteering on one’s own could hinder the work of rescue and recovery workers or even lead to personal harm.

One of the responsibilities of UMCOR is to assist annual conferences with training disaster response volunteers. Early response teams with intensive UMCOR training enter a disaster zone after search and rescue operations have ended.

Self-Sufficient Early Response Teams

“These teams are self sufficient—they bring their own water, food, shelter, gasoline, and security,” said the Rev. Kristin L. Sachen, emergency services office executive for United Methodist. United Methodist teams fan out across a region at the invitation of the area bishop.

The early response teams deploy geographically. Their task is to make homes safe and secure. They tarp roofs, swab out standing water and mud, and remove trees and other debris that endanger occupancy.

Intensive training for the early response teams prepares them emotionally, spiritually, and physically for what they may see and experience at a disaster site. Currently teams are at work in parts of Mississippi. Other teams will begin work in Louisiana as soon as law enforcement officials give the okay.

Volunteers in Mission

Other volunteers take it from there. Local-church based, and coordinated through the United Methodist’s geographically defined jurisdictions, groups known as UMVIM teams do their work under the supervision of a trained leader. Before their deployment, team members participate in team building and relationship building exercises to equip them to work with each other as well as with members of the community where they are serving.

UMVIM teams enter a disaster zone when it is ready to house and feed them, and when a conference staff member is available to manage their activities. Teams often plan a year in advance.

Cash gifts will help UMCOR continue to support work of volunteers, annual conferences and interfaith response efforts in the Gulf Coast disaster area as well as other vulnerable regions of the world. Donors can give online at Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. One hundred percent of every donation to any appeal, including the Hurricane Relief/Katrina appeal, UMCOR Advance #982523, goes to support recovery efforts in the disaster-stricken regions.

See Also

News and Resources

volunteers putting kits together

The Rev. Clyde Pressley (left) visits with Janice Collier and her brother, David Clark Jr., in their neighborhood, which was flattened by Hurricane Katrina in Bayou La Batre, Ala. Pressley is head of the disaster recovery ministry for the United Methodist Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference. Credit: Mike DuBose./UMNS

How You Can Help


Your generous gift to UMCOR Advance #982523, Hurricanes 2005 Global, will help those affected by Hurricane Katrina. You can give online at, at your church, over the phone at 1-800-554-8583, or by mailing a check directly to: UMCOR, PO Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Checks should be written to UMCOR with the Advance number and name written on the memo line of your check. If you would prefer that your funds to go to recovery in a specific region, please note that on your donation.


There is an urgent need for both health kits and school kits. These collections of everyday items will help families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The health kits contain items such as a toothbrush, wash cloth, and soap. The school kits contain items like paper, pencils, and items to help children start school. For assembly and shipping instructions, call UMCOR Sager Brown at 1-800-814-8765 or visit the UMCOR website. You may also give a financial donation to to UMCOR's Material Resource Ministry, Advance #901440 to purchase kit supplies that the Depot staff and volunteers will use to assemble health kits and school kits.


Volunteers will be needed to help in Hurricane Katrina recovery. To find out how you can help with hurricane cleanup, contact your United Methodist Volunteers in Mission jurisdictional and annual conference coordinators. A list of these coordinators is available on the web at or write Mission Volunteers at for contact information. They will provide details on creating and training a team as well as scheduling details. For information on what disaster sites are currently scheduling volunteers, call the Volunteer Hotline at 800-918-3100.