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Episcopal Relief & Development awards funds for ongoing Irene recovery efforts

Episcopal Relief & Development awards funds for ongoing Irene recovery efforts

Canon Lynn Bates, the Diocese’s disaster response coordinator announced on December 9, that Episcopal Relief & Development has granted the Diocese $50,000 for Irene recovery efforts for December-January, which includes the appointment of Ann Cooper of St. Stephen’s, Middlebury, as diocesan Irene Flood Response Consultant. Canon Bates’s announcement follows:

Dear All,

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in touch about our response to the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene the end of August. I hope you have been hearing at least some of the amazing stories of how we, the Episcopal Church in Vermont, have been able to help – changing lives in the process. The initial relief effects have shifted to long-term recovery. There is still much to be done!

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont (EDOV) Irene Relief Task Force which gathered, quite organically, in the early days after the storm has done amazing work – most recently facilitating Carhartt clothing and RedWing shoe distributions, baking and delivering Christmas cookies to be part of those distributions, and continuing to be listening hearts and advocates for the individuals and families affected while connecting them with resources and providing them with needed items. These efforts have multiplied over and over as they connected (and continue to connect) with people in their congregations and communities.

With their guidance and input, a grant application was recently submitted to Episcopal Relief and Development for funds to continue our efforts over the next two months and determine our long-range efforts through the end of 2012. The Task Force was very clear that the grant is not intended to replace programs already on the ground or have been in the works or to transfer supervision of them to the diocese. The purpose of the grant is to support current efforts, discern areas of ongoing need, determine what if any resources and agencies are already involved in the activity, coordinate our work with what is already ongoing to avoid duplication, and learn from the experience of others working in the field.

Our application for $50,000 was approved by Episcopal Relief and Development for the following program activities during December 2011 and January 2012 (if you would like a copy of the complete grant application, just let me know and I will be glad to email it to you):

  • Provide financial support to flood-impacted families to meet vital needs, such as temporary shelter, winterizing home repairs, food, heat, gas and clothing
  • Hold a series of retreats for clergy, volunteers and other caregivers, equipping at least 60 people for further ministry
  • Provide funds and logistical support to vulnerable communities needing debris and trash removal
  • Conduct community needs assessments and create a program plan for 2012
  • Hire Episcopal Diocese of Vermont Irene Flood Response Consultant

Some aspects of this grant are already well underway:

  • A sub-group of the Task Force is meeting to plan the caregiver’s retreats. The retreat leader will be The Rev. Charles LaFond of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Information about these events will be distributed as it becomes available.
  • Applicants for the consultant position were solicited in November. There were several applications which were reviewed by our Episcopal Relief and Development Partners, Katie Mears and Elaine Clements, along with Bishop Ely and me. I am delighted to share that Ann Cooper, a member of St. Stephen’s, Middlebury, has been selected for this position. Ann’s experience, energy, gifts and skills are just what we were hoping to find and are so pleased she has agreed to accept this ministry. A Steering Committee to work with Ann will soon be named.

Please continue to pray for all those affected by the flooding and for all those working to provide relief, perhaps using the prayers developed by members of the Task Force, including:

Lord, gather up our prayers with those of your people in every place as you prepare the way, fill every valley, lower every mountain, and guide us to Christ our Lord.  Bless all sharing their hearts in ongoing flood relief, that we may be Your hands and feet  as we bring our communities to safety and prosperity again in You.

With Advent blessings,

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