Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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March 2014 Archive for Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

Disaster relief coordinator Pastor Craig Miller shares disaster relief information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

All God's children needed in disaster relief

Mar 27, 2014

"The group we hosted from Framingham, MA, affirmed that we are all God’s children even though we worship in different ways. These Unitarian Universalists proved that we are closer rather than further apart. About half of their group were young adults who gave up their spring break from high school to serve those in need. It was a delight to share our building with them." –Deacon Luana Schilling


baldwinvolunteersIn February, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Baldwin hosted a youth group from First Parish in Framingham, a Unitarian Universalist congregation, that came to volunteer in Long Island. The youth slept on air mattresses in the congregation’s classrooms and used their ample kitchen facilities to prepare breakfast and dinner. Each day they traveled to nearby communities in order to work on homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. When their work day ended, they returned to the church after showering at the Baldwin Fire Department.


The youth and chaperones attended worship with the congregation of St. Peter’s and participated in the congregation’s youth group activity during the week of their stay. Tom Brady, the leader of St. Peter’s hospitality program, remarked how good it was to have these youth stay with them: "It was nice to have the extra voices for the hymns – and the youth of each congregation enjoyed the time they had to share with one another."


During the week, the group worked on several homes near Baldwin under the supervision of a construction supervisor from the United Methodist Church New York Annual Conference. NYAC leads volunteer groups in clean up and rebuilding efforts in Long Island and Brooklyn and continues to expand its recovery effort in New York and Connecticut.


St. Peter’s will continue to host volunteer groups for disaster recovery. Their next group, from Vermont, will come in June.


LCC addresses Sandy-related emotional and mental health issues

Mar 20, 2014

"Just as we expected, emotional and mental health issues related to Sandy started slow but have been growing after the storm."


In her presentation to the Annual Meeting of Lutheran Counseling Center (LCC), director Molly Blancke observed that the first year after a disaster is generally a time of shock as individuals begin to process and understand the real effects on them and their lives. As the initial shock wears off and realization sets in, people begin to manifest a variety of responses depending on their emotional and mental resiliency.


Lutheran Counseling Center received a grant through Lutheran Disaster Response of New York (LDRNY) to provide emotional and spiritual care in communities impacted by Sandy and to offer seminars and other training in schools and congregations. In 2013 they opened a temporary counseling site at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Staten Island, and offered disaster related counseling through their other offices in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island. Their counselors were holding up to 110 sessions per month with Sandy survivors dealing with frustration, marital stress, substance abuse, verbal and physical abuse, depression, hopelessness, and feelings of insecurity caused by the storm. Much of this comes from the frustrations incurred in battling for funding for recovery efforts, loss of jobs either as a result of Sandy or the economy since the hurricane, and the effects of long-term displacement from homes; many have moved several times to and from hotels, homes of relatives, and other places.


In the first 15 months after Sandy LCC provided counseling services to 217 individuals and 123 families referred to them by congregations, social service agencies and other sources. Thanks to LDRNY, as well as LCC donors and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, this counseling was offered at little or no cost to the clients.


Long Island and Queens school principals and early childhood directors took part in a monthly practicum that helped them to address mental health issues among their students, especially those reacting to Sandy. Parenting seminars, intended to help parents talk with their children about disasters and to recognize potential behavioral issues arising from Sandy, were offered in churches and schools. In addition, LCC provided free mental health wellness and healing seminars for congregations impacted by Sandy, helping participants to deal effectively with loss, frustration, anger and other feelings related to the storm’s impact on their lives.


For 2014, LCC plans to continue its counseling programs and expand its reach in Southwest Queens into the Rockaways through a new site at St. James-St. Matthew Lutheran Church. Continued funding from LDRNY will enable counseling to continue at greatly subsidized rates, even for free.


Regrettably, LCC has had to forgo an initiative to provide support to clergy impacted by the storm. They have been unable to secure the $25-30,000 needed for this program that would invite clergy to participate in guided conversations about their own mental and spiritual health as they also provide care to their members affected by Sandy.


Contribute to Lutheran Counseling Center



“We wouldn't have what we have without you.”

Mar 13, 2014

masticbeachThe village of Mastic Beach was one of many communities along the south shore of Long Island to take the brunt of Superstorm Sandy. Once mostly farmland and summer cottages, the community has developed year round housing in a lovely suburban setting with plenty of trees and open space. Part of the beauty of Mastic Beach is the surrounding waters of Bellport Bay and Narrow Bay, but those waters turned dangerous when the surge from Sandy drove them into the community flooding homes and businesses with up to four feet of water.


The towns and villages were unprepared for the storm, said residents of Mastic Beach and the neighboring Poospatuck Reservation. Over 55% of the community was inundated when the bay waters were pushed onto land. "We didn’t know what to expect." Many homes were flooded and some were knocked off their foundations.


The Mastic Beach Jubilee Center quickly set up their operations in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Parish to help their neighbors recover from the storm. With help from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island they offer Disaster Case Management and rebuilding assistance to many in the village and on the reservation. Staff of the Jubilee Center comes from the neighborhood and are dedicated to helping their neighbors and the whole village recover.


In the many months since the storm many volunteer groups have come from New York and around the country to help at the Jubilee Center. "We wouldn't have what we have without you," said one staff member, speaking about all the volunteer hours put in at the Jubilee Center, "That's what it's all about."


The Jubilee Center is one of many organizations struggling to help the communities on Long Island’s south shore rebuild after Sandy. Volunteers have played an important role and will continue to do so for the many years ahead.


Volunteer opportunities abound in Long Island and New York City. Check out the Metropolitan New York Synod Disaster Relief webpage for ways you and your congregation can help.


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