From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
UMCOR plans response to World Trade Center tragedy
Wed, 19 Sep 2001 11:03:09 -0500
Sept. 18, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212) 870-38037New York
By Linda Bloom*
NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) expects
to respond to the World Trade Center tragedy on local and national levels.
Plans include providing certified counselors in the New York area, offering
trauma-related training on a national level to those who work with children,
and funding events promoting understanding between Muslims and others.
The Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR's chief executive, said a response by the relief
agency was imperative. "UMCOR should be involved because the United
Methodist family as a whole has the experience, skills and ability to help
the official agencies in the long run," he explained.
"Churches across the United States are very well positioned to help their
communities seek justice when vulnerable minorities are targeted for
scapegoating and to assist children who need healing ways to process a
tragedy," he said.
What is definitely not needed at the moment, he stressed, is material aid or
volunteers trying to make their way into the rescue and recovery zone around
the blast site. The New York Times reported on Sept. 16 that so much food,
clothing and bottled water had arrived that the supplies were nearly
creating a mini-disaster.
Dirdak said that, as it has in the past, UMCOR could help manage cases of
displaced people or those who lost family members in the Sept. 11 tragedy.
He noted that a number of the people who are missing after the twin tower
collapse worked for very modest wages. "When that breadwinner is lost, the
consequences for large groups of people is severe," he said.
The denomination's New York Annual Conference has made clear the need for
counselors to help people deal with the aftermath of the death and
destruction. "Many licensed counselors of all kinds already have put their
names on volunteers lists," he added.
Because he and his wife, the Rev. Wendy Pomeroy, live near the World Trade
Center, Dirdak has had firsthand experience of the fallout, both literally
and figuratively, from the blast. "The full incident was in panoramic view
on our rooftop," he said, noting that his wife had watched events unfold
Among the UMCOR staff working to coordinate the response are the Rev. Tom
Hazelwood and Kristin Sachen. While donations are welcome, Sachen urged
United Methodists not to divert funds intended for other projects around the
"This is not a typical disaster response in that we do not go in and rebuild
houses," Sachen explained. However, she added that volunteers could be
needed eventually to clean homes of elderly residents in the financial
Currently, UMCOR is working with the New York Conference in considering ways
to assist local churches in the recovery work. "In Washington, we want to be
helpful, but we have the sense that the military is taking care of their
own," Sachen said.
Plans that UMCOR has in the works include:
7 Assisting communities to "grow in their understanding of their
Islamic neighbors" by funding locally designed anti-discrimination events.
7 Training people who could then train others to help children deal
with their trauma and fears.
7 Supporting churches in the New York Metropolitan Area by providing
teams of certified counselors to assist members and others in the community.
Credentialed people interested in volunteering for counseling teams should
call the Volunteer Hotline at (800) 918-3100.
Monetary donations can be made to UMCOR Advance No. 901125-3, "Love in the
Midst of Tragedy," and dropped in church collection plates or mailed to 475
Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Credit-card gifts can be made
by calling (800) 554-8583.
# # #
*Bloom is news director of United Methodist News Service's New York bureau.
United Methodist News Service
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