In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, South Floridians, nonprofits and church communities are giving intentionally to bring relief to the hardest hit areas in the Keys and Puerto Rico. As the Acts 2 Church shared its possessions “with all, as anyone might have need” (Acts 2:45), so are faith-based organizations and community leaders. While it would be impossible to recognize them all, here are a few who are making a difference worthy of support.
Foster kids give back
On September 18, Place of Hope, a unique faith-based family-style foster care organization, gathered a group of church volunteers and older children from its Paxson campus to put together care kits, which were delivered to the Mile 54 drop point at the Florida Keys the following day, as requested by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the Keys.
The organization’s intention was to teach the children self-development, nurturing them to give back to the outside community. Charles Bender, Founding CEO of Place of Hope, said, “You are worthy and you can get to where you are trying to go. There are different ways to do that. Part of that is giving back.”
While Place of Hope’s campuses sustained some damage from Hurricane Irma, it did not compare to the devastation in the Keys. “We are so grateful to have been spared from the worst of the damage and desire to give assistance to those who need it most,” he said.
Rebuilding Together aids those in need
Other organizations and ministries seem to share this sentiment. Robin Martin, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together Broward, a non-profit organization dedicated to repairing homes for people in need in Broward County, said, “Tragedies like the eight deaths in the retirement home speak volumes about those who may require special assistance.”
Rebuilding Together Broward has communicated with the Broward EOC, United Way, Hands on Broward, Neighbors4Neighbors/CBS4 and other entities to identify the elderly or disabled among those in need of assistance.
Committed to serving the Broward County homeowners with significant repairs and hurricane disaster relief, Rebuilding Together Broward has been rallying teams. “Already, we have taken down shutters for the disabled, removed fallen trees on a roof for an older single woman, and lent a hand in cleanup in the low income areas we have committed to revitalize,” Martin said. “We are also coordinating critical repairs, like broken a/c’s and electrical problems.”
Many suffered throughout the storm, and Martin shared, “the road to recovery will be long.”
Calvary Chapel Collaborates with Samaritan’s Purse
But partnership does not end there. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale has collaborated with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief program that provides aid to hurting people and disaster victims throughout the globe in the name of Jesus. Through this partnership, Samaritan’s Purse has sponsored complimentary flights daily, except Sundays, to the Florida Keys to provide relief efforts.
September 20 through October 11 is scheduled for 100 volunteers to leave from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale to provide aid including, but not limited to, cleaning out homes, removing trees and debris from yards, and distributing food and water. However, there may be opportunities for extension in the future.
“We have one goal and that’s to love your neighbor,” said Stephanie Gunderson, director of local outreach at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (CCFL). CCFL has also been working with other churches as part of a Church United effort to give relief.
But Puerto Rico is not left out. According to Gunderson, CCFL, alongside Calvary Chapel Puerto Rico, is currently working on clearance to send relief teams to provide food, clean up and medical support to the region in response to Hurricane Maria’s damages. “We are focusing our efforts on collecting supplies for [Puerto Rico] right now,” Gunderson said.
Interested volunteers can find further information at CalvaryFtl.org/Hurricane.
Contribute to local efforts
The National Christian Foundation has also opened opportunities for financial support. Stephan Tchividjian, Co-Founder and President of National Christian Foundation South Florida, said, “We are reaching out to ministries, churches and community partners throughout the Tri-County and Southwest Florida area, and through these conversations we are uncovering many unique, urgent and longer-term needs throughout these communities. To participate in directly meeting these needs, you can:
Make a direct contribution to the Angel Relief Fund, (bit.ly/2xMCe0V) which we have activated in the past for relief for Hurricane Katrina and most recently for Hurricane Harvey.
Make a direct contribution to the Church United Mercy Fund, (bit.ly/2kcN4tS) a fund dedicated to responding to local crises affecting churches in South Florida.