By: Christa Meland
The Minnesota Conference Early Response Team, which provides hands-on assistance following natural disasters, made a significant impact in the lives of families across the state over the past year.
Team members deployed to Dodge County twice in July to work in homes, removing sheetrock, mopping up water, and sanitizing floors and walls. It’s a process they refer to as “mucking.” They also spent a day in Duluth in November to haul tree branches out of yards following severe wind storms.
“This ministry is about serving people in their time of need,” said Disaster Response Coordinator Gary Bochman. “But what people appreciate the most is not so much the work, it’s knowing somebody cares about them. We provide a listening ear and hear homeowners’ stories as we help them out.”
Here’s a look at the early response team’s impact in 2019 by the numbers:
109: Certified emergency response team members
274: Hours that team members spent volunteering
11: Families served
19: Team member certifications and re-certifications
5: Members who deployed for the first time
3: UMCOR-certified Early Response Team trainers
2: Early Response Team classes offered
“All the help and effort that you folks put forth in lending a hand in cleaning up my yard is greatly appreciated!” said one Duluth family that the Early Response Team assisted. “May God continue to bless you all for what you do for others!”
Another homeowner in Duluth commented: “My husband said he came home to a wonderful sight! How amazing to have that stress finally off our minds! Thanks for your amazing help! We couldn’t have done this without you & your crew—we are so grateful to you!! It’s amazing that you go around and help people in need like this. What a blessing you are to others.”
Bochman pointed out that Dodge Center UMC housed Early Response Team members during their deployment in that region and went above and beyond providing food and hospitality. Housing teams is a way that churches of all sizes can and do give back.
The Early Response Team is always looking to expand, and all are welcome to attend an upcoming, day-long Early Response Team training—scheduled for March 28 at Evangel UMC in Rochester. Meanwhile, half-day re-certification classes are slated for April 18th and Sept. 19, and those who need to be re-certified will be notified next year. (Watch the conference website for more information about these events.)
John Wesley encouraged us to “do all the good you can,” and for Bochman, the Early Response Team is one way in which to live out that instruction.
“That’s what this ministry does,” he said. “It serves, reaches out to others in their time of need. But the people who serve get a lot back from it. Whenever people partake in this ministry, they often get back as much as they give.”
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church