Preparing to Serve

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By Rick Wolcott*

“It’s not if, but when will a disaster hit,” said Greg Forrester, UMCOR Assistant General Secretary Domestic Disaster Response.  “Training helps so that we can be proactive, not reactive when the time arrives.”

The North Central Jurisdiction Disaster Response Academy is taking place at Camp Asbury in Hiram, Ohio through Saturday, September 28.  The academy is presented in partnership with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM).

“It’s so important that UMVIM coordinators be included that my office subsidized their being here,” said Una Jones, General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Assistant General Secretary Mission Volunteers.  “It’s a good fit.  UMCOR and UMVIM are complementary because UMCOR supplies resources and UMVIM brings trained volunteers.”

The 120 participants are being trained in: Disaster 101, Early Response Team (ERT) Basic & Advanced, Connecting Neighbors, UMVIM Team Leadership, Volunteer Management, Spiritual & Emotional Care, and more.

“Previous trainings have had 60-75 participants so it’s great to have so many people here,” said Lorna Jost, Coordinator of North Central Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission.

Ricky Hill, an UMCOR trainer, said the class is so large this time because the timing is good.  “Unfortunately there have been a lot of disasters in the news lately,” he said. “That, and the academy was promoted well.”

Jost concurred.  “There has been fantastic collaboration between East Ohio (host conference), West Ohio, and Indiana (co-sponsoring conferences),” she said.  “It’s good to get the VIM and UMCOR people in the jurisdiction working together.”

The next Disaster Response Academy will be held for the South Central Jurisdiction.  It is scheduled for October 7-10 in Fayetteville, AR.

“The goal is for annual conference representatives to be better prepared for when a disaster occurs,” said Forrester.

*Rick Wolcott is Director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.