WVUMC Disaster Recovery team named 2019 WV-VOAD organization of the Year!

By Caitlin Ware

West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV-VOAD) honors WVUMC Disaster Recovery!

The WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery Team was recognized on June 18 as the 2019 Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) Organization of the Year. VOAD is a national association of organizations that work towards alleviating disaster relief.

JF Lacaria, Executive Director of WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery, describes VOAD as “the table that brings together all the state, public, and private agencies to a common table to make aware what we are doing. We were really surprised and honored to receive this award. We tried to keep the faith throughout the disaster to make sure we are active in recovery for as long as it takes.”

The primary benefit of working with VOAD is the collaborative relationships you build with all the organization’s members. Lacaria added; “We were especially pleased that our longtime friend Greg Forrester (Executive Director of National VOAD) and former UMCOR chief, was present to see us receive this award. There is still lots of work ahead and we are ready and excited to continue helping people recover from this horrific disaster, the floods of 2016.” 

The WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery Team in partnership with the generosity of churches across the West Virginia Conference as well as UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and UM-VIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) has brought long-term aid to 12 declared counties affected by the 2016 floods as well as families outside those areas.

By 2018 our Disaster Recovery team engaged over 900 volunteers who performed 27,500 hours of recovery work. “We made major repairs to 60 residences, directly benefitting over 100 people, and completed and closed 49 of 105 open cases.” Lacaria said.

And yet, our work is not yet complete.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, in her Bishop’s Appeal for Disaster Recovery writes; “I praise God for your response to this catastrophic event! Your prayers, work teams, and financial gifts have made and continue to make a difference and your help is still needed. Yes, we are still working in flood recovery efforts.”

Our promise was and is that “We’re still here for as long as it takes! The West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church is leading the way in completing the recovery process. We plan to fulfill our promise to be active in recovery efforts for as long as it takes to bring the work to completion,” adds Bishop Steiner Ball.

Your generosity of prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness continue to bring new life and hope to the families of West Virginia who thought they had lost everything. Our commitment is to continue to walk with each one of these families so that they may be restored to wholeness and experience a recovered and resurrected life where they have what they need, not only to survive, but to experience joy.

Donations may be made through Annual Conference #935 for the special offering. Checks may be sent to: 
Conference Treasurer’s office:
PO Box 2469, 
Charleston, WV 25329. 

You may also give online here: ONLINE giving for WV Flood Relief. Please select “United Methodist Disaster Response #935” and complete the form.

For more stories about ongoing recovery and how you can participate visit https://www.wvumc.org/disaster-response/disaster-recovery/

Featured in the photo are Dan Lowther, WV UM Disaster Response Coordinator; Greg Forrester, Executive Director of National VOAD; Miranda Nabers, WV United Methodist Disaster Case Manager; JF Lacaria, Executive Director of WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery; Jenny Gannaway, Executive Director of WV VOAD; Larry Murphy, Chair of the WV VOAD Board of Directors; Grace Msisha, WV UM Disaster Case Manager; Jack Lipphardt, Director of WV United Methodist Disaster Recovery for the 2016 storms and flood disaster; Buck Edwards, WV UM Disaster Construction Coordinator. Unable to be present are Sue Lowther, Co-coordinator of WV United Methodist Disaster Response; Chad Faris, WV UM disaster construction coordinator; David Stilgenbauer, WV UM volunteers in mission coordinator.