As part of its disaster response efforts, the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church opened a call center to receive requests for help, offers of service and goods and to schedule trained volunteer teams coming to Alabama from across the nation.
“Within one week of the April storms, the Disaster Response Call Center was up and running in the Conference Offices on the campus of Birmingham-Southern. The information gathered is used to meet needs of storm survivors with supplies and through the efforts of trained teams of volunteers,” noted the Reverend Bob Alford, the Leader of Disaster Recovery Center for the North Alabama Conference.
“From volunteers taking calls to those working in the storm affected areas, the Body of Christ has been busy meeting immediate needs. Now we will transition those efforts toward long term recovery. Our focus then becomes rebuilding lives,” remarked Alford.
In addition to the call center, a Disaster Response Team was recruited and set up in the Disaster Response Center located on the first floor of the United Methodist Center to help organize the Conference’s disaster response. This team is working closely with District Disaster Response Coordinators; churches serving as drop off locations for donated supplies; disaster response distribution centers and warehouses; churches hosting volunteers; and others meeting needs throughout the North Alabama Conference area. Members of the Disaster Response Center Team include Rev. Rusty Glasgow who is coordinating logistics of supplies; Rev. Tom Duley who is coordinating work teams coming from outside the North Alabama Conference, Lori Feist who is coordinating work teams from inside the North Alabama Conference and Rev. Matt Lacey who is the Director of Missions and Advocacy for the North Alabama Conference.
The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and calls are monitored at night and on weekends. Volunteers from Birmingham-area United Methodist churches take calls as well as survey the needs of staging areas across the Conference. Information is then processed by the Disaster Response Team, utilizing the connection among the 749 United Methodist congregations across north Alabama, to ensure needs are met.
“It is so rewarding to use my talents from years in the business world to benefit the storm survivors and help them get back on their feet,” remarked Sara Bryant, a retired nurse and case manager with Blue Cross Blue Shield and member of Saint Mark UMC in Birmingham currently serving as a Call Center volunteer.
If you or your group would like to serve or give toward disaster response efforts or if you have a need, call toll free, 1-855-862-8657. You may also visit the Conference website, www.northalabamaumc.org, for more information.