Bringing comfort, volunteers and your donations to hurting communities
Lutheran Church Charities is monitoring the wildfires in Napa, Santa Rosa and Monticeto, California. We are in contact with Pastor Zabell, the CNH District Disaster Response Coordinator. He reports that there has been approximately 3,500 homes lost in these communities. St. John Lutheran Church in Napa reports that staff members and several congregation members have lost their homes.
Following their deployment to serve in Las Vegas, Nevada, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Aaron (St John’s – Napa, California) and Reuben (First Lutheran – Yuba City, California) returned home to out-of-control wildfires in their towns, even though they are about 2 hours apart in driving distance. LCC K-9 Ministry team members from both Aaron Comfort Dog and Reuben Comfort Dog initially evacuated from their homes but have since returned. We are thankful that they are all safe. As soon as it was safe to do so, both teams have been serving throughout their surrounding communities, visiting first responders, incident command centers, schools, families in shelters, and others who have been and still are impacted. Please continue to pray for all first responders who are heroically battling these horrible fires, all volunteers, and the individuals in the impacted communities who are struggling to cope with their losses.
Las Vegas Update
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are still serving the Las Vegas community following the recent tragic event supporting LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Lois (First Good Shepherd - Las Vegas, Nevada). Last week, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Anna (Trinity - Toledo, Ohio) and Bekah (Immanuel - Belvidere, Illinois) and their teams served with Lois Comfort Dog and her team. This week, Tobias (Lord of Glory - Grayslake, Illinois) and Rich Martin, LCC Director of K-9 Deployments
Puerto Rico Update
Through our generous donors, Lutheran Church Charities has and will continue to provide financial support and Walmart gift cards to Vicar David Blas from Sheboygan, Wisconsin who will get them directly to impacted individuals in need in Puerto Rico. Vicar Blas has been in Puerto Rico since last Thursday helping his family and their neighbors with basic needs and to assess current conditions. He is returning home this week and LCC will be talking to him about on-going support to help individuals during the long recovery process they face.
These are some of the living conditions of people in Immokalee, Florida that the Amigos Center is working with. Jan Boerman (Trinity – Lisle, Illinois) and Denise Cupples (Cross – Yorkville, Illinois) have been helping Pastor Glander complete assessments. Housing was poor prior to Hurricane Irma. It is deplorable in many places now.
LCC will continue to partner and work with the Amigos Center in Immokalee, asking churches to Adopt-A-Family, providing for basic household needs as families are able to move into safe, sanitary and secure housing. Pastor Glander, Director of Amigos Center, and staff are doing assessments of hurricane damaged mobile homes and apartments. He knows 80 have been condemned by the city and several others that have serious damage and mold. As these assessments are completed, they will begin determining needs and how LCC can ask all of our churches and teams to support and partner with them. This is a “forgotten community” and called a “Third World Country” within the United States.
This week, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Sasha (Island Lutheran – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) and Luke (Christ the Shepherd – Alpharetta, Georgia) and their handlers have been working with Hope Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs, Florida to bring comfort and hope in the name of Jesus Christ to impacted individuals in Bonita Springs, Immokalee, and surrounding communities that are still greatly impacted from the hurricane. Phil Burden presented Pastor Karl Glander from the Amigos Center with Visa gift cards sent by the people at Island Lutheran Church to help individuals during this time of need.
LCC Responds to Help Requested through Facebook
After Hurricane Irma hit Florida, LCC received a Facebook message from a concerned brother for his sister living in LaBelle who days after Hurricane Irma still had not received any assistance and was housing neighbors that had their homes destroyed.
"I have a sister who lives in LaBelle. She's a single mom who is housing a few others who have lost their homes, including an 88 year old woman. She could really use some people with chainsaws. How can I get her some help? Thank you for doing your important work. Blessings to you."
Kathy O’Day, LCC Director of Disaster Response, reached out to Marilyn immediately and listened to her story and pleas for help. Marilyn said the town was hit by the eastern eye of the wall of the hurricane and had flooding and a lot of trees down. Many of the homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed. They had no power for a week following the storm. Marilyn sheltered 12 people during the hurricane and now has 3 neighbors still living with her as their homes have been destroyed and they have nowhere else to go. She lives on 5 wooded acres with at least 40 trees now down. She is an accomplished butterfly farmer shipping them all over the country, but her several greenhouses and a lab were destroyed or badly damaged. She was struggling to come to grips with this loss of everything after the hurricane.
Kathy O’Day was able to pass on this information to the Florida District Disaster Response Coordinators and Ed and Jan Boerman (Trinity – Lisle, Illinois) LERT team members who were in the Fort Myers area. They visited Marilyn’s home to assess the damage and began to send teams to assist. LCC was also able to give each family WalMart gift cards to help purchase basic supplies they needed.
Multiple LERT team members from the Northern Illinois District from our area were sent to her home over the last few weeks to help her remove downed trees and salvage her butterfly farm. The LERT team members from Illinois and Indiana who volunteered their time and talents were from Trinity – Lisle, Lord of Life – LaFox, Cross – Yorkville, Prince of Peace – Palatine, Grace – Paris, Immanuel – Freeport, St. John – Wheaton and St. John – Dillsboro, Indiana.
This week, LCC received a thank you note from Marilyn’s brother:
“Many of your teams helped my sister, Marilyn, in LaBelle, Florida these past few weeks. First of all, I want to thank you so much for your help. Marilyn could never have done the work herself. I cannot begin to thank you enough. God bless you.”
LCC continues to work through our Texas District contacts and ministry partners to help impacted communities still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Julie Tucker, Texas District Volunteer Relief Coordinator, reports that there are 330,000 homes damaged or destroyed in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. These damaged homes stretch from the Beaumont/Port Arthur area to the Houston area and down to the Rockport/Aransas Pass/Corpus Christi area with many towns in between as well. Many of the people affected in the coastal bend are retired and on fixed incomes or immigrants living below poverty level. Neither of these groups have the means to recover on their own and need assistance.
Julie is looking for volunteers willing to travel outside of the Houston area down to the some of these hard hit communities which still need outside assistance.
Michelle Karim, Volunteer Coordinator for Trinity Lutheran Church in Klein (Houston area only) reports that they are moving forward with plans for the build out phase of recovery which should begin next month. They have a warehouse of building material supplies and skilled volunteer construction supervisors to direct projects and instruct volunteers. LCC LERT volunteers Bob Pautsch (Trinity - Roselle, Illinois) and Ken Kirvanta (St. Peter - Schaumburg, Illinois) have been serving in Texas, receiving their job site assignments through Trinity Klein. Lou Jander, Crown Point Ministries reports that he is in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area providing spiritual and emotional support. He will be teaching how to do this this to the local congregations in the circuit in early November.