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UMCOR Responds to Deluge of Criticism, "Just How Long do You Plan to Retain the WTC Donations?!"

 [Answer:  As Long As Possible so as to Accumulate Undesignated Funds from its Investment Income]

Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2002 10:29 AM
To: Warrener, John
Subject: UCMPage.org post - UMCOR responds to criticism

John, in the midst of all the flap over the Red Cross funds for 9-11, it would appear that UMCOR has been deluged with criticisms as well, and so they posted this FAQ webpage (note their brief comment about all the inquiries--it's at the bottom of the page at the below link).

Love in the Midst of Tragedy, Advance #901125-3

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Whom does UMCOR serve?
  2. Why is "counseling" such a focus of the disaster response?
  3. How much money has been received?
  4. May I designate funds within this offering?

Whom does UMCOR serve?

In the "Love in the Midst of Tragedy" response, as in all other responses offered by UMCOR in emergency, hunger and poverty and refugee situations, the primary focus is on those groups and individuals who do not have access to other resources. Working from the biblical text in Matthew 24, UMCOR serves "the least of these."

Identifying and serving the "victims" in NYC.

The primary population of need in New York is represented by survivors' families. It is very important that UMCOR not render any family ineligible for the assistance to which it may be entitled by making outright grants that are temporarily useful, but will exempt the recipient from various insurances and social service programs. A very important second group of needy persons are those whose jobs were lost due to the collapse of many business sectors throughout the city. All told, hundreds of thousands of people will be affected.

The "victims" have returned to their homes in the five boroughs of New York City, other parts of the state of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. If a family member is not on one of the "lists of identified deceased" or were hospitalized immediately following the attacks, it is very likely that they will need to identify themselves. Many people in this situation are not coming forward because "others need it more than I." It is the on-going task of all disaster response agencies to encourage "victims" to come forward.

Assisting immigrants who have been extremely hard-hit.

UMCOR has partnered with a local agency that deals with immigrants from Central America and Mexico. We are finding that their clientele need assistance with transportation costs to get to the relief centers and we are currently helping with that. I expect that this population will also receiving the kind of "direct" assistance like groceries and clothing and rent. We have helped with bringing family from Central America to identify the deceased.

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Why is "counseling" such a focus of the disaster response?

Counseling is a critical need in this disaster in ways that other domestic disasters haven't required. The number of people who survived the WTC attack physically is probably equal to the number who were damaged psychically. People expected to die, and now face how to live after that shock. People on the ground witnessed horrible sights - charred bodies, body parts, falling bodies - things that deeply disturb us. In addition, people who have lost friends and relatives, and their jobs and offices, have experienced a massive disruption in their sense of trust that the universe in a safe place. We anticipate that with the coming holidays there will be an increase in depression and suicide attempts and thus an ever growing need for counseling. At a cost of $80 to $150 an hour, you can readily see that the slow process of coming to grips with what has happened will be a significant expense.

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How much money has been received?

By the end of November 2001, gifts to "Love in the Midst of Tragedy" totaled $10.4 million. More than $6.4 million was raised in November alone. By far, most of the received funds will be used in New York. When we know how much has been received, we will finalize the design of a 3-5 year response. Church and Conference treasurers have done an excellent job in assembling the offerings from United Methodist Churches and individuals and forwarding it all to our treasury. Our colleagues have nearly completed their task of processing it all. [See also: UMCOR Makes Major Grants, 12/20/01.]

Using donations in NYC.

We expect there to be at least two "peaks" in need in the NYC area. The first will occur when unemployment insurance expires and the second will occur when the large number of other disaster relief agencies stop their operations. As UMCOR does in every large disaster, our plan will encompass both these future events of greatly heightened need.

We have met with our Board Of Directors and have agreed to have a full operations plan by about year's end. We believe that we can have it in place much earlier than that. If we meet that goal, we will be among the first agencies to have our full multi-year plan in place.

Our approach to finding long-term solutions for the most vulnerable, as well as emergency shelter and food, for those exposed to the elements, and doing both anywhere in the world that a particular emergency creates human suffering, is a proven combination. It is the basis upon which UMCOR has built an excellent reputation in the United Methodist Church and beyond.

UMCOR bases its support on a case management system in which we have become an acknowledged leader. We will not replace the huge number of programs which cities, states and federal agencies will put in place. But these services will be very large and unresponsive to the precise needs of individual families. UMCOR's approach is to find and identify large numbers of very needy people, individually, and accompany them through their problem-solving, person by person, problem by problem, for the coming few years. Our experience is that this approach ultimately meets the most need, most effectively.

Using funds in Central Asia.

Refugees fleeing from war are massing on the North and South borders of Afghanistan. Most of them are women and children who have suffered under the occupations of the Taliban and previous invaders.

UMCOR has long-standing relationships with Church World Service, of which the United Methodist Church and UMCOR are both members. CWS has operated a relief agency in Pakistan for many years. UMCOR completed an assessment of CWS/Pakistan last week and believe that they are well equipped to render excellent service in this emergency and to provide the highest level of professional accounting for all assets contributed to their efforts.

In the North, UMCOR itself operates a relief project in Tajikistan with a capable staff. We have already started the response there with a project to provide tents, blankets, food and medicine for 26,000 people at the Tajik/Afghan border. Our own staff will monitor the distribution and on-going service among these refugees.

Other Uses for the Love in the Midst of Tragedy Donations

UMCOR's "Honoring Differences in the Midst of Hate and Violence" Grant Program is a national program designed to respond to the continuing violence that began September 11, 2001 and the subsequent assaults against those appearing to be Middle-Eastern. The program provides a way for annual conferences and local churches to create innovative joint projects with Islamic, American-Arab organizations and other groups of people who may be experiencing stereotyping and hostility in response to the violent attacks of September 11. Grants will be awarded to projects that have peace-building goals of increasing understanding, building trust, and establishing an inclusive community that honors differences.

UMCOR is also providing child-related workshops, called "Tragic Times, Healing Moments," aimed at the leadership at the district and conference levels. The four-hour training helps participants be assured that they understand normal reactions of children to national trauma and can train others to share the information with others.

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May I designate funds within this offering?

Many callers, donors and potential donors, have given to "Love In The Midst Of Tragedy" because we were treating the emergency in its broadest, global, context. Others have expressed dismay that we are doing so. Some donors have been clear that their gifts are to be used strictly in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. or Afghani refugees in Central Asia. We are happy to comply with every wish by any donor.

Donors must understand that we cannot specify a particular individual recipient and we are not able to design the actual disaster response by individual donors' prescriptions. But any donor may request that their gift be used in a particular place. All of us are committed to using all the contributions to aid the most needy persons in each of the disaster affected areas.


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