Reflection: A fresh chance in bloom

A reflection from Bonnie Vollmering, CWS Associate Director for Domestic Emergency Response. "We are assisting a disabled individual I'll call Frank. Frank nearly lost his Cedar Rapids home in the catastrophic 2008 floods. If that wasn't bad enough, soon after losing his home his wife left him. Then, Frank's pet died....

Woman, Man, TruckBonnie Vollmering discusses repair on a Hurricane Katrina-damaged home in southern Mississippi. Photo: Matt Hackworth/CWS

From Bonnie Vollmering, CWS Associate Director for Domestic Emergency Response

We are assisting a disabled individual I’ll call Frank. Frank nearly lost his Cedar Rapids home in the catastrophic 2008 floods. If that wasn’t bad enough, soon after losing his home his wife left him. Then, Frank’s pet died.

This isn’t a joke. Frank was living in the undamaged upstairs of his flood-damaged home and was slowly making repairs, while coping with his disability. Lack of funds and medical problems kept him living in limbo between the life he had before the flood and a new life after it. For Frank, it seems recovery was almost impossible.

That is, until CWS contributed funds and volunteers to help Frank complete his recovery. He has been working side-by-side with the volunteers, hammering, painting and helping how he can. Every day the glow gets brighter on Frank’s face as he sees hope in the future, a fresh chance in bloom.

After the South Texas floods in 1998, I saw so much devastation and people in need of assistance that, like a lot of others, I felt I had to help somehow.  After praying for God to show me how I could help, I felt called to coordinate a volunteer center. We opened up this center the next day and continued for several weeks until a long-term recovery group organized and became operational.  I was hired as the group’s executive director and have been involved in disaster response ever since.

My role as assistant director for domestic emergency response for Church World Service involves me in disasters in many communities. The travel and normal headaches of life can be stressful. Yet, seeing devastation and hurting people still drives me to want to help them, to do something. Our role is critical, to make sure each community has the knowledge and resources to recover from disaster.

For Frank in Cedar Rapids, that means after the flood our U.S. domestic response team was able to provide immediate help to people like him, in the form of CWS Kits and CWS Blankets. It means the long-term recovery group helping Frank learned how to do the work thanks, in part, to CWS training. It means our partners are working with us to repair flood-damaged homes there  side-by-side, ecumenically, under the CWS banner. 

That takes a lot of work. So every time I get weary, every time I have to climb on another airplane, I like to talk to someone like Frank, to help me remember why I and so many others do the work we do.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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