What’s it like to man the Disaster Response Call Center for the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church? The chairs are pretty comfortable, the hot coffee is brewing, the company is good, and the work…well, it has eternal meaning.
When the phones ring, the stories pour in — stories from God’s people who are suffering and God’s people who are helping. Dedicated volunteers are on hand to answer those calls, along with Ann Huffman, disaster response readiness coordinator, and Wilson Rogers, communications/data specialist.
The NCCUMC established five work centers to lead Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts: Fayetteville, Lumberton, Tarboro, Washington, and Windsor. About 20 devoted workers do it all: plan work flow, organize work teams, report progress and needs, tear-out flood damage, rebuild houses and — most important of all — offer physical, emotional, and spiritual support to families. As if we didn’t know it already, the word is coming back to the Call Center that they are doing those jobs with great competence.
Of all the folks who answer phones at the Call Center, Wilson Rogers probably handles the most. Here’s what he recently reported to field staff:
- While unpacking after a week-long stay in Fayetteville working on houses damaged by Hurricane Matthew, a volunteer from Maryland telephoned the Call Center to schedule an additional work week. She said the team had a great time, got plenty of work done, and admired the organizational skills of Don Evans, site manager; Dominic Kusumoto, case manager; and Kelly Barr, assistant district superintendent. “We loved it!” she exclaimed.
- Another team from New York and one from Pennsylvania begged for another trip to Tarboro! The volunteer from Pennsylvania said they “sure would love to stay here and work with Jason DuVall,” site coordinator. The team at the Tarboro Work Center made them feel like esteemed members of God’s plan.
- Two calls came in recently from Lumberton work teams – while they were still there working – asking to schedule two more trips back. They had connected with the vision of Ann Wade, site manager, and Jeff Wade, construction manager. They reveled in the organization and planning.
- Ed Rutenkroger, coordinator of ERT leaders, is clearly doing something great in Windsor! Volunteer teams from First United Methodist Church in Washington have booked eleven consecutive weeks.
- At the Washington Work Center, Tommy Gilbert, NCCUMC field operations director, is a living legend. Teams frequently call in and ask where he can be found – because they want to work with him, of course!
- Teams from Georgia, South Carolina, Western NC, Virginia, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania have told Wilson that they have skipped volunteering at their usual areas because they have either heard of or have experienced our work in NC. “You guys are the only organization we have talked to that has your stuff together,” the volunteer reported.
We offer a huge THANK YOU to office and field staff who are contributing their sizable talents and energy – plan by plan, house by house, community by community.
We are HUMBLY GRATEFUL for the thousands of volunteers who have traveled over state and county lines to perform days and weeks of manual labor to return stability to the lives of our neighbors.
Most of all, we THANK GOD for blessing our work together.
To date, about 6,000 volunteers representing about 600 work teams have offered helping hands and hearts to mitigate the losses of those in our conference affected by Hurricane Matthew. Of the 214 requests for assistance, 59 remain open.
To volunteer, call 888.440.9167 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.