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ACS Disaster Response Advisory Inspires Collaboration Among Unions and Addresses Need for Certified Leaders

Adventist Community Services Disaster Relief leaders present projects and exchange ideas during the ACS DR Advisory May 6-7. Photo courtesy of ACS

Adventist Community Services Disaster Relief leaders present projects and exchange ideas during the ACS DR Advisory on May 6-7. Photo courtesy of ACS

The Adventist Community Services (ACS) Disaster Response (DR) Advisory drew 50 coordinators and directors to Rhode Island on May 6-7 to deliver reports on projects taking place around the division and beyond. The event took place at the Providence Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church just before the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) conference.

“The Advisory provides a time and place for interaction among ourselves, and can be the impetus for ideas on assisting communities that may not have been considered previously,” said W. Derrick Lea, director of ACS DR. “The collaboration is helpful and can lead to partnerships during ‘blue skies’ (times without crisis) that benefits the community when disaster strikes.”

Attendees had the opportunity to take a new course called “Delivering Powerful, Purposeful Presentations,” which was created as one of the requirements for DR instructors. The course will equip ACS DR leaders to offer classes to their teams to ensure the best possible services throughout the Division.

“One of the challenges we are experiencing is a lack of instructors in each conference. This creates a dearth in the number of classes that can be given by local instructors, which leads to additional expense covering travel of outside Instructors,” said Lea. “A number of our those who have taught previously have retired and moved to other stages of their lives. This has left us with the reality that new instructors need to be certified. To that end, we have created a class that will better ensure a consistent, competent, professional delivery process.”

According to Lea, the course will be offered over the next year in various locations within unions with expressed interest in certifying its leaders.

Special assistant to the ACS DR director, Dan Hoover, presented an overview of ACS’s warehouse management system, Flowtrac. He spoke on the system’s operations that facilitate communication in the field, and the adjustments that have been made to meet the needs of active operations.  

Flowtrac training will be offered in various conferences within the division in the near future.

The director of communication for NAD, Dan Weber, encouraged leaders to find ways to share the work of ACS within their territories through photography and relationships with media outlets. The suggestions were given to help increase the exposure the Church’s ability to assist during disasters.

A National VOAD board member, April Woods, thanked attendees during the advisory for their partnership throughout the year and spoke of the benefit of coming together to help the community.

The Advisory concluded with reports from various conferences and unions. For example, leaders from South Central Conference shared their response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) request in wake of Hurricane Harvey. Products and supplies were transported from Jacksonville, Florida to Puerto Rico for five months. Furthermore, the team took the opportunity to train teams from Florida Conference and Southeastern Union in warehouse operations during their five-month deployment.

Additionally, leaders from the Southwestern Union spoke on the rebuilding initiative that was put in place shortly after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas. Currently, the union is working with the Jefferson County Long Term Recovery Committee to prepare houses for re-entry. The initiative also lays the foundation for youth groups that are interested in providing long-term assistance to affected families as they rebuild their lives.  

Attendees expressed appreciation for the opportunity to discuss how their efforts could be combined to increase the service within communities in need through operating warehouses, sheltering and feeding families, and rebuilding communities.  

“Hearing the tremendous work of ACS DR was extremely encouraging to all,” said Lea. “The discussion was exciting and showcased the heartfelt dedication of our team.”