A few weeks ago, Disaster Response Coordinator Jim Fetzer and Holston Director of Connectional Ministries Director Anne Travis met with Jacki Mayo, executive director of Knox Housing Partnership, a Neighbor Works Chartered Member.
Mayo explained that she had access to grant funds that would support Holston Conference Disaster Response Ministries. She further explained that her organization provides free financial counseling to disaster survivors who may need support in managing the funds they receive either from insurance coverage and/or Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to help them rebuild their homes and lives.
The recent 2012 storms caused damage within Holston Conference in the Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Maryville Districts, Fetzer said. Because storms in 2011 caused damage in Cleveland and Chattanooga Districts, case workers working the 2011 cases will assume cases from 2012 storms. There are no United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)-trained case workers in Maryville District, Fetzer said. Travis is working with UMCOR to send a case worker trainer to the Maryville District.
The Rev. Al Shaver, Maryville District disaster response coordinator, has identified volunteers who will receive the case worker training and serve storm survivors, Fetzer said. "District Superintendent Charles Maynard has been aware, supportive, and involved in the development of this effort too."
"Al is identifying persons to be trained as case managers, and he is seeking churches that can partner with Knox Housing Partnership to offer financial counseling to low-income families who lost their homes in hopes they can get their lives turned around while getting their homes rebuilt," Travis said.
Holston Conference will be working with the Knox Housing Partnership financial counselors as a part of the organization's Case Management service to the district, Fetzer said. Knox Housing Partnership serves an eight-county area, and the Maryville District is within their service area.
Mayo asked Holston to provide a written grant request for disaster response and funding of response trailers, tools, and equipment in support of the organization's mission to disaster survivors. "I wrote the grant request and submitted it to Knox Housing Partnership for their review," Fetzer said.
Mayo notified Fetzer in April that the Knox Housing Partnership Board of Directors unanimously approved Holston's grant request. Fetzer received the $20,000 grant check at Cokesbury Center in Knoxville on April 12.
One of the immediate uses of the grant monies is to purchase four new UMCOR Early Response Team Disaster Response/United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Team (UMVIM) Leader/ Long Term Recovery Team trailers, Fetzer stated.
"One-half of the $20,000K grant is to be used for the trailers. The other one-half of the grant is to be used for housing needs for uninsured persons in Tellico Plains," Travis said.
Fetzer said the Knox Housing Partnership has a mission to support people to stay in their homes and, if necessary, rebuild their homes which is the purpose and mission of UMVIM teams.
The trailers will be pre-positioned in four regions of the conference. Region 1 is Abingdon, Tazewell, and Wytheville Districts, Fetzer said. Region 2 is Big Stone Gap, Johnson City, and Kingsport Districts, Region 3 is Knoxville, Oak Ridge, and Morristown Districts. Region 4 is Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Maryville Districts.
The trailers will be managed by Regional Early Response Team Coordinators working in connection with the respective district disaster response coordinators in the region, Fetzer said.
"By pre-positioning the trailers it gives us the ability to respond more quickly to a disaster and coordinate the use of the trailer within the region with Holston Conference UMVIM Trained Long Term Recovery Team Leaders and Teams when that time comes," Fetzer said.
"This effort now gives Holston Conference the capabilities of Disaster Response at the conference, regional, district, and soon-to-be-local church levels," Fetzer said.