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Wealthy UM Relief Agency Worried UMs Will Give To Terrorist Attack Relief, Leaders Urge Don't Divert Giving

UMCOR plans response to World Trade Center tragedy
Sept. 18, 2001 News media contact: Linda Bloom· (212) 870-3803· New York {407}

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 from there.

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 world*.

"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 district.

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:

· Assisting communities to "grow in their understanding of their Islamic neighbors" by funding locally designed anti-discrimination events.

· Training people who could then train others to help children deal with their trauma and fears.

· 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.

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*Bloom is news director of United Methodist News Service's New York bureau.

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* UMCOR has almost 25 million dollars in unspent cash reserves.
UMCOR is part of the General Board Of Global Missions which has almost 419 million dollars in unspent cash reserves.

Source: http://www.gcfa.org/FundBalances1999.pdf



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