It has been an anxious season of storm watches and warnings, and even as the waters begin to recede, we remain watchful for any related concerns … and we begin the clean up in earnest.
May brought unprecedented flooding, tornadoes, and damage in our Tulsa neighborhoods; devastation in El Reno, Skiatook, Muskogee, and other areas of NE Oklahoma; near Joplin, and in Jefferson City in Missouri, and further east into Indiana and Ohio.
We are overwhelmed with concern and want to go and be and do … and we will.
But FOR RIGHT NOW, what we really need to do, what will help our friends and neighbors most, is to give time and room for those who are closest to the need, and trained to make the response, to lead the effort. Responding as we are asked, when we are asked, makes the care we long to extend actually possible, and helpful. Do not simply show up if you have not been invited, trained, and directed. You will mean well, but you will create MORE work, not less.
The Holy One waits with us.
We bind ourselves to Christ and to one another as we pray:
for first responders, willing volunteers, those simply being neighbors;
for decision-makers, policy-creators, and all who will move us forward;
for care providers, insurance adjusters, contractors and renovators;
for emerging needs, lasting effects, and patience to endure;
and for calm, wise, discerning hearts amidst it all.
Our financial gifts make help possible immediately, and let those closest to the needs determine the best solutions.
Our church’s relief and response through Week of Compassion gets your gift where it is most needed for our siblings in affected communities. You can use WOC’s secure online donation (you may choose to designate, OR make an undesignated gift, leaving the most flexibility) or bring a gift to the church office.
City and County leaders have established a Disaster Relief Fund for Eastern Oklahoma. This is being managed by the Tulsa Area United Way and the Tulsa Community Foundation. You can donate here, and those gifts will serve all local social service non-profit partners involved in disaster relief in the area.
When you are bringing donations to a site, please only bring what has specifically been requested. Bringing things that are not asked for makes more work for already-overworked coordinators, and wastes time, storage space, and the items themselves.
*Sand Springs Community Services is a local clearinghouse for relief supplies in the levee-threatened and flooded areas. They have two very specific requests:
– cleaning supplies (trash bags; work gloves; sponges/magic erasers; paper towels; toilet paper; cleansers)
– hand-held games or small toys (new, not broken; NOT stuffed animals). Please read this for information and instructions.
*The Food Bank has regular volunteer shifts (9a-12n, 1p-3p, some 6p-8p) that you can sign up for. The work will primarily consist of packing nonperishable food kits for distribution, especially in the next few days. No volunteers under 11yrs; volunteers 16 and under must be accompanied by adult; *registration and volunteer profile is required*. Register here.
*The River Parks system was effective in its purpose as a buffer between people and the floodwaters through much of Tulsa. Now we need volunteers to help clean up miles of park land that spent a lot of time under water. You can sign up to help restore River Parks as a recreational area here.
*You can access other volunteer opportunities by calling 2-1-1.
As soon as those leading recovery assess how volunteer assistance is needed here in Tulsa, in Missouri, in Indiana or Ohio – and there will be SO MUCH long-term recovery work – we will be there, and for the long haul. It is what we do, and our partners at Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and others help us do the most good. We will advise, direct, and support that effort in every way we can.
It is an honor and privilege to be in a congregation whose first thought is for others. May divine creativity inspire our waiting, and our witness.