From the Worldwide Faith News archives

UMCOR makes major grants in Sept. 11 response

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 20 Dec 2001 14:08:56 -0600

Dec. 20, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom7(212) 870-38037New York

NEW YORK (UMNS) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has
approved two $1 million grants for response to the Sept. 11 terrorist

The grants, requested by the United Methodist New York Annual (regional)
Conference, were approved by UMCOR directors during a Dec. 19 conference
call. Another grant provides $300,000 for work in Afghanistan. 

A grant of up to $1.1 million, to be released in quarterly payments, will be
applied to a contract with the Blanton-Peale Institute and Counseling
Center, which will provide trauma counseling and referral. Blanton-Peale
operates two state-licensed counseling centers, eight community counseling
centers and a telephone consultation and referral service for denominations
and religious institutions. The agency also staffs and maintains the
authorized national referral  tollfree number for the American Association
of Pastoral Counselors.

As part of the contract, the professional staff at Blanton-Peale would
counsel, assess and refer by phone congregants and others referred by United
Methodist clergy and UMCOR community workers to pastoral counselors,
certified therapists and counseling centers throughout the conference.
Besides New York City, the conference area includes Long Island, counties
north of the city and part of Connecticut.

UMCOR has approved another $1 million to the New York Conference to
encourage local churches to develop programs that respond directly to local
needs arising from the aftermath of Sept. 11. An evaluation committee will
receive proposals and disperse funds to projects considered appropriate and
in keeping with UMCOR's mandate for service.

In October, UMCOR directors approved the release of $400,000 for a project
in Afghanistan in partnership with Mercy Corps and UMCOR's NGO
(nongovernmental organization) office in Tajikistan. The project, part of
the Action by Churches Together (ACT) appeal, involved providing emergency
shelter, basic nonfood items and fuel and basic hygiene items to about 4,000
families. Mercy Corps also is working with international coordinating
agencies to provide food, water, sanitation and essential medical care to
those families.

On Dec. 19, directors approved another $300,000 to help provide winterized
tents and plastic tarpaulins for displaced families, assisting about 24,000
people altogether.

The Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR's chief executive, said another $100,000 request
for funds for work in Afghanistan was being processed as of that date. "I
have no doubt that our response in Afghanistan will continue to grow," he

According to a Dec. 18 update from ACT, about half of the UMCOR/Mercy Corps
shelter goal will be met by early January as 2,081 shelter kits are
distributed to identified beneficiaries in Northern Afghanistan. Also set
for a January delivery is the same number of household and hygiene kits.
Household sets include kitchen supplies, stoves, fuel, kerosene lamps, water
storage cans and other essential items. Hygiene kits include soap, towels,
toothbrushes, toothpaste and washbasins.

Mercy Corps was able to set up an office in Taloqan after the Taliban
retreat from that area. As warmer weather arrives in Afghanistan in March,
ACT expects the focus of the work to shift more from shelter to the
emergency delivery of spring seeds and fertilizer.

By late November, more than $10.4 million in gifts had been counted for
UMCOR's "Love in the Midst of Tragedy" fund, which provides for the church's
response to the Sept. 11 attacks and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Dirdak
expects that figure to increase by the end of the year.

UMCOR continues to accept donations to "Love in the Midst of Tragedy,"
Advance No. 901125-3. Checks so designated may be placed in church
collection plates or mailed to UMCOR at 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New
York, NY 10115. Credit-card donations can be made by calling (800) 554-8583.
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United Methodist News Service
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