2018 Advent can begin with the special blessing of having done something to help the victims of the Camp Fire disaster. This Saturday, Dec. 1, the day before the start of the Advent season, volunteers are needed for data entry at the United Methodist Center in West Sacramento.
The information from 1,300 paper intake forms needs to be entered into a computerized record-keeping system. There will be two shifts: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and 2-6 p.m. It’s estimated that 237 volunteer hours will be needed to complete this project, which works out to be 30 volunteers per shift.
However, there are only seven (7) computers available – so volunteers will need to bring their own laptops, equipped with Wi-Fi capability and anti-virus protection.
“That’s right! We need 60 volunteers Saturday – and only have seven available computers!” says Sonja Edd-Bennett, director of the Disaster Response Ministry for the California-Nevada Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Other than a personal laptop, qualifications are the ability to type accurately and maintain confidentiality. It is helpful to have a talent for interpreting other people’s handwriting.
To offer your service, click here to complete a Fire Disaster Response volunteers form.
To date the Disaster Response Ministry of the Cal-Nevada Conference has provided grocery, gas, or store gift cards to approximately 10% of the now more than 13,000 single residences destroyed in the Camp Fire. Local UMC volunteers continue to provide a presence at the Disaster Recovery Center in Chico – offering a listening ear, screening for additional needs, making referrals, and taking information for potential Emergency Response Team (ERT) and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) projects that are anticipated to be needed in the very near future.
Residents of some of the outer areas around Paradise have been allowed to return to inspect their property, though most are not currently being allowed to stay. Some outer zones around Paradise may be allowed in as early as next week, however.
“The current allowance is for homeowners only. Once there is allowance for residents to enter with visitors, we will begin providing direct support through sifting,” Edd-Bennett says. “When residents begin to get more settled throughout the fire area, we will begin repair projects.”
Edd-Bennett continues to participate in Long Term Recovery meetings that include local and national non-government and faith-based partners, along with city, county, state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leaders. Discussion has just begun to move from considerations of immediate relief and response to the beginning stages of forming a recovery plan.
“We [also] are in regular conversations with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and local pastors to determine our next steps, and how we might best serve the communities affected by the fire while working collaboratively with our partners,” Edd-Bennett reports.
“There will be opportunities for service throughout the next several years,” she adds.
Register to help by completing a Fire Disaster Response volunteers form here.
Over the next few weeks, volunteers will be needed to make phone calls, to follow up with Camp Fire survivors who registered with the conference at the Disaster Recovery Center and get an updated report on their needs.
There also will be opportunities to provide spiritual and emotional care, sift through ashes with homeowners, and to eventually help with small repairs or with cleaning homes impacted by smoke and soot. Look for more information about those opportunities to be posted next week.
If you are interested in volunteering for any of these opportunities or to help in some other way, and have not yet done so, please register HERE by completing a Fire Disaster Response volunteers form, and you will be contacted.
Edd-Bennett stresses the importance of submitting the form: “Even if you’ve called one of us who’s working on the fires, please do register – as the registration system provides a means for us to manage relevant information, such as the names, special abilities, and interests of volunteers. It makes it easier for us to locate your information and call on you when you are needed to help.”
If you are unable to volunteer but would like to provide assistance, you may wish to make a cash donation.
To donate to victims of US-based disasters, give to UMCOR here. UMCOR has given generously to California-Nevada for use in disaster response, so your gift to UMCOR has been paid forward already.
To donate specifically to fire survivors in the California-Nevada Conference, however, give through the Conference Disaster Response Fund by clicking here, or by mailing a check, payable to the conference, to CA-NV Conference of The UMC, P.O. Box 980250, West Sacramento, CA 95798. Note “Conference Disaster Fund” in the memo line.