Members of the Massachusetts Conference Staff involved with the tornado relief effort sent out the following email update on June 28:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus reminds us that it is within 'the least of these' that we minister to Christ. You have done so generously! To date, we have received $48,038.66 in funds for tornado relief from the collections in our churches and at our MACUCC Annual Meeting. In addition, many folks have sent along generous checks to the UCC Spring Storm Appeal that are helping us minister to people here and throughout the country during a season of an unprecedented number of disasters.
Because of your ongoing support through OCWM and fellowship dues, we have the staffing and infrastructure in place to move your gifts right to the places of greatest need.
To date, there is an estimate of 3,000 homes damaged by the tornadoes here in Massachusetts that stretched from Springfield to Charlton:
Nearly 200 were totally destroyed.
Over 500 sustained severe damage.
Over 8,000 insurance claims have already been submitted.
25% of the homes did not have insurance or tornado coverage.
Our experience with disasters over the years tells us that 5% of the affected homes will have unmet needs after going through the process of assistance from insurance, state and federal support. This same 5% will likely be 'the least of these'; the most vulnerable of our neighbors who struggle with financial, physical, emotional and health concerns. The funds you have shared with us will go to help these folks. We will focus on three areas:
- The majority of it (approx 2/3) will go to a fund to be used by Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs). These groups are a collaboration of state, federal, non-profit and faith-based groups who help folks through the process of assistance and provide the safety net when all other sources of support run out. Right now, two to four of these groups are being formed in different regions of the tornado zone. Collectively they will be working towards the repair and replacement of potentially 175 homes. We will have UCC members on these LTRGs to provide that extension of our love, compassion, prayers and support.
- In addition, approximately 25% will be used in the immediate and long term recovery efforts of our churches that are and have been providing direct assistance to survivors and volunteers.
- The remaining funds (approx 10%) will be used to offer spiritual and emotional care to the pastors, church members and their volunteers who have been deeply immersed and impacted by the disaster and its aftermath.
As the financial and emotional long term impact becomes clearer these percentages may be adjusted, but the categories will remain the same.
Visit our website to submit a donation for Massachusetts tornado recovery. Or donate to the national storm appeal. For recovery updates and information on other ways to help, visit our Massachusetts Tornado Response Page.
Thank you again for your generosity.
Jim Antal, Minister and President
Don Remick, Jim Tilbe, Mass Conference UCC Disaster Resource Coordinators
Jill Graham, Peter Wells and Andy Gustafson, Associate Conference Ministers
Kris LoFrumento, Associate for Youth and Young Adult Ministry