HOTLINE - week of May 17, 2010

CWS and volunteers help families return home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Spring storms hit U.S. communities; CWS responds; Cambodian family raises chickens and grows vegetables, through CWS-supported self-help group; More ambitious emissions targets and more support for vulnerable nations needed in new climate bill, says CWS

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Volunteers helping to repair the McSpadden home
Cedar Rapids, Iowa--Volunteers building a new porch for the McSpadden home, in this CWS-supported project.
Photo: Bonnie Vollmering/CWS

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

After coping with flood damage for more than two years, Don and Sandy McSpadden will return to a fully repaired home following a ceremony in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 18.  The event caps a six-week effort of nearly 400 volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada who worked to repair 14 homes in and around Cedar Rapids.

The McSpaddens are just one of many Cedar Rapids families still recovering from the flood of 2008, when their homes became uninhabitable. Since then they have been forced to live in a small apartment and are very eager to return to their home and neighborhood of more than 40 years.

Volunteers worked some 9,000 hours throughout the CWS Neighborhood: Cedar Rapids project repairing flood damaged homes, restoring hope, and making it possible for families to return to safe, secure, and sanitary homes.

“The McSpaddens are exactly the kind of individuals we are supposed to help,” says Bonnie Vollmering, Associate Director for Domestic Emergency Response for Church World Service. “We are fortunate in this project to stand side by side with families who needed a partner in recovery.”

U.S. storms

CWS is providing recovery supplies, and CWS Emergency Response Specialists are coordinating with disaster recovery personnel in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi, following recent flooding and tornadoes.  At least three dozen people have died in the severe spring weather. 

Most recently, CWS has provided 540 CWS Hygiene Kits and 100 CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets for distribution by Holy Trinity Church in Nashville, TN, as well as 500 CWS Emergency Clean-up Buckets to the Christian Appalachia Project in Corbin, KY, near the Tennessee border. CWS expects to work with long-term recovery partners in multiple states in what is likely to be a long recovery process. In addition, CWS anticipates providing emergency response grants to nascent recovery groups, as well as additional recovery supplies as needed.

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“My family used to face food shortages from eight to 10 months a year,” says Phuong Torn, 38, mother of six children in Beng village, Kompong Thom province.  “We borrowed money from neighbors and worked on their rice fields in exchange.”

“Then the [CWS] project supported my family to raise chickens and begin growing vegetables.” Torn and her husband also attended a CWS-conducted chicken-raising program.

“My family received six chickens, crop seeds such as long beans, watermelon, eggplant and pumpkin,” explains Torn.  “Now we have more than 23 chickens and… our garden produces vegetables for our family, as well as for sale to neighbors and in the market. My family no longer worries about food shortages,” Torn says. 

Phuong Torn’s success is indicative of the self-help programs that CWS works with in Cambodia, providing training and technical support to enable group members to find practical ways of providing food and income for their families.

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U.S. climate bill

“Climate change is the moral challenge of our generation. It is imperative that our Senators create a lasting legislative legacy of which we can all be proud,” said Rev. John. L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service, on the release of new U.S. climate legislation.

McCullough noted that the American Power Act “provides an initial step,” but called for “higher expectations” related to greenhouse gas emissions targets in earlier years and an earlier commitment to adaptation funding for vulnerable nations.

Climate change cuts to the heart of CWS’s core mission to end hunger and poverty.  CWS supports sustainable food security, agriculture and water resources programs in some of the world’s poorest countries now affected by changing climatic conditions.   

For McCullough’s full statement, see

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Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.

After tornadoes and prolific rains hit the southern U.S., damage was most severe in Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi. CWS Emergency Response Specialists have been in contact with disaster recovery personnel in all affected areas. CWS expects to work with long-term recovery partners in multiple states and has sent various CWS Kits to partners in the region. In all cases, CWS expects to provide emergency response grants to nascent long-term recovery groups and material resources as needed.


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