Texas Conference Mission Center Helping Many With UMCOR Grants for Flood Recovery
Thanks to the generous donations to UMCOR, many who were devastated by two years of record-setting Texas floods are getting their lives back together with the help of the TAC Mission Center in Conroe.
When TAC Mission Center Disaster Director Pyppa Johnson meets individuals in suffering in the aftermath of a catastrophe, she never knows what heart wrenching conditions she will find. “When I met one of my current clients during the horrific spring floods, rain was literally coming into the house through the roof and there was a pool of standing water underneath the house,” she recalls. Since this client falls below the poverty line, he has been thankful for volunteer help from UM Army, St. Peter's UMC in Katy, and Kingwood UMC, among others. He told Pyppa,”Having a new roof over my head is a blessing. It does not rain on me anymore while I sleep. I am just amazed at seeing people, that don't look like me, give their time and spend their own money to help someone they don't even know.”
According to Rev. Scott Moore who serves as the Executive Director of the Mission Center, “Following the Spring 2015 floods, we received $300,000 in grants from UMCOR to be used for flood recovery. We received another $300,000 following the 2016 storms that affected virtually every area of our conference. The money for these grants comes from UMCOR's Domestic Disaster Response Advance. UMCOR receives no apportionment money, and all of their administrative costs are covered by special gifts during One Great Hour of Sharing (now called UMCOR Sunday). The rest of UMCOR's gifts are given to specific Advance accounts for specific missional purposes.”
Pyppa has been especially grateful to have UMCOR grant funds to be able to help an elderly woman who was rejected by eight contractors and multiple nonprofits prior to the April 2016 flood. These before and after pictures document the dramatic devastation and recovery process. She says, “I am an old woman. This is my home, my land and I have nowhere else to go. I live on less than $700 a month so I couldn't afford to do anything like this on my own. I just kept asking God to send me some help...and He did!"
Shares Pyppa, “I have been humbled by the whole experience of being the case manager and now the Disaster Director. I know the clients. I have walked with each one through the process of repairing/rebuilding their homes and their lives.” Adds Pyppa, “I know it's hard for most people to believe there are persons still trying to rebuild from the May/October 2015 floods. For those without resources...it is a series of painful circumstances that they cannot flee.”
The Domestic Disaster Response Advance is a pool of millions of dollars from which the UMCOR Board of Directors distributes financial assistance to Annual Conferences for specific disaster-related work relative to specific natural disasters. Notes Scott, “In our case, each pool of money is designated for use to assist vulnerable populations (elderly, disabled, single parents, deeply impoverished homeowners) repair specific storm-related damage to their homes. This is accomplished through the use of volunteer work teams, and, when necessary, licensed contractors who offer their services to us at drastically reduced rates as a way of paying something back to their communities.”
The Mission Center currently has seven Long Term Recovery Boards operating in various locations throughout the Texas Annual Conference. Each of these boards is made up of community members, state and federal representatives, and non-profit assistance agencies that work together to pool resources and help communities recover and find a "new normal" following a major disaster. Explains Scott, “Each of these boards has a TAC United Methodist representative on the board. Our job as Disaster Ministries is to coordinate with these local boards and with local churches to provide money and resources to each community to assist in their recovery efforts.”
Pyppa acknowledges, “Volunteers are great, but when a client has a need beyond what volunteers can do, we need money to hire professionals. When you give, you help us to help others, so please dig deep and continue to give.”
Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of the Center for Missional Excellence says, “We are grateful to every United Methodist who has given to the UMCOR Domestic Disasters Advance and to the TAC for the Louisiana floods. We are also grateful to every church and every volunteer who rolled up their sleeves and went to work in response to the need of those in their own communities and beyond. Your generosity is transforming lives for Jesus Christ! Thank you for doing what you always do: showing up when it really counts.”
You can contribute via UMCOR Domestic Disaster Advance #901670.