Meet Vermont Diocesan Disaster Coordinator Harry Kendrick
By Episcopal Relief & Development
What do you do and why?
I’m retired, so much of my time is spent with my wife, Jean, my children and grandchildren. We try to travel as much as possible, and I do genealogy research on the side during some of my travels. At home, I volunteer in the food shelf at our local homeless ministry, Upper Valley Haven. The need for this ministry has grown dramatically over the past several years, and the housing part of the mission has expanded to include single individuals. I also serve on the Diocesan Standing Committee and the Diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Response Committee.
What brings you to disaster ministry?
Hurricane Irene in 2011 did tremendous damage in our area of Vermont. Jean and I became involved in disaster relief through our local congregation. We both became members of the Leadership Team, which focused on serving meals, visiting people impacted by the storm and bringing them food and other items. At the diocesan level, I was appointed to the committee that oversaw the dispersement of monetary donations including money from Episcopal Relief & Development.
Recently, the Diocese of Vermont decided to reactivate our disaster preparedness program, and Canon to the Ordinary Lynn Bates asked if I would be willing to co-coordinate with her. Last fall, I attended a disaster training hosted by Episcopal Relief & Development along with other prospective team members, and I now serve as one of the DDCs for the Diocese of Vermont.
Where do you see God in disaster ministry?
I try to see God’s hand in all of this work. During the Irene response, we were scheduled to serve meals, but when we arrived at the church the only available food was just a small portion of chicken and some carrots. We obtained food from Upper Valley Haven’s food shelf and started to make soup. As the soup was being prepared, people arrived with casseroles, side dishes and dessert. In that moment, something was at work that was beyond us! Events like this happened many times during that year of relief work.
Do you have advice for other congregations interested in doing disaster preparedness work?
I have two pieces of advice: one, think about disasters, and prepare further. We hadn’t done much planning before Irene. And second, read Church Insurance’s Safety and Insurance Handbook for Churches.
In the featured image: Harry Kendrick