Adventists were among hundreds of volunteers involved in relief efforts following tornadoes that tore through Missouri in late February and early March.
One life was lost and at least 110 homes were significantly damaged in Perryville and surrounding rural communities by an EF-4 tornado on February 28, leaving between 60 and 70 of those homes uninhabitable or destroyed. A multi-agency resource center was opened on March 4, with approximately 20 volunteers from the Missouri Adventist Community Services Disaster Response team serving as ambassadors, greeting and assisting community members affected by the storm.
Services offered to residents by various volunteer, state and local government organizations included information about insurance services; legal and financial assistance; vouchers for temporary housing assistance and other immediate needs such as food, baby supplies and personal care items; and donations of buckets, shovels, tarps, wheelbarrows and other cleanup supplies.
On March 6, an EF-3 tornado damaged between 700 and 800 homes in and around Oak Grove. Adventist volunteers also served as ambassadors in a multi-agency resource center that was open March 10-12.
According to Jody Dickhaut, ACSDR director for Missouri, many techniques used by the ACSDR volunteers to engage with the community members during these tragedies were gained through a Community Service & Urban Ministry Certification Program offered by Adventist Community Services. “This is only one of many ways the Adventist Church can put into practice the dynamics of the program,” he said. “What kind of impact would more and sustained exposure to the local community like this have on evangelism and other church outreach initiatives?”
A certification weekend was offered in St. Louis in February. There will be another certification weekend August 12-15 in Kansas City.