By Jessica Brodie
Just in time for the New Year, those who manage long-term disaster recovery are trying a new way of scheduling United Methodist volunteers to increase help for those who need it the most.
Starting in January, South Carolina Conference Disaster Recovery Ministries is releasing planned workweeks ahead of time so volunteers across the state can join in an existing effort and, therefore, help more people.
In January, the workweeks are as follows:
- Week of Jan. 8: Kingstree/Georgetown area
- Week of Jan. 15: Berkeley County
- Week of Jan. 22: Orangeburg County
- Week of Jan. 29: Sumter area
February workweeks and locations will be released soon.
Recovery Ministries is providing volunteer housing on location, or volunteers can commute. They can come and stay or commute back and forth all week long, or come just for a day or two.
“It’s just a matter of knowing and committing ahead of time so we can plan,” said Ward Smith, director of Recovery Ministries.
Smith said the help is sorely needed.
“At this stage in disaster recovery, it’s important to remember there are still people who need assistance in recovery, and we are called to assist them however we can, and that is by volunteers,” Smith said.
Most of the homeowners are elderly females who live in generational housing, he said, passed down from family member to family member, and the storms exposed their long-term needs. They don’t have the family, friends or resources to do the repairs on their own, and they rely on United Methodist volunteers for assistance.
The winter months are an ideal time to do construction, Smith said.
“We love January—it’s not too freezing cold and not stinking hot. We can do almost anything this time of year, even a roof, and work inside and out,” Smith said.
Also, because it’s after the holidays, people’s schedules are freed up, allowing time for volunteering and other service projects.
Volunteer Coordinator Nikki Ulmer said helping people is what we’re called to do as people who follow Jesus.
“Sometimes we focus on faraway problems without focusing on the problems in our backyard,” Ulmer said. “We don’t need to go far away. We can just stay here and make a difference in God’s Kingdom.”
Volunteer opportunities are open to people of all ages, from teenagers aged 14 and older to senior citizens, and all skill levels. Smith said the ideal volunteer should have basic construction skills or be willing to work hard and learn as they go.
To sign up as a volunteer or learn more, contact Ulmer at [email protected] or 803-726-3105.