In April of 2011, these words were broadcast on every television and radio station in the local area. They are familiar to anyone who lives in an area prone to tornadoes, and they were not unexpected on that day. As I’ve mentioned
ad nauseum before, I was born and raised in Wisconsin…tornadoes are a regular occurrence here as in other parts of the American Midwest. We had been watching the weather…the sky had taken on the sort of sinister green cast that I always associate with the potential for funnel clouds, and when the sirens went off, indicating that a funnel cloud had been sighted in our area, I gathered up my chicks and headed to for the basement. It’s the basic drill….most of the time, it’s just a precaution, but this time it was real. On that April night we did have some wild weather and the town that I live in sustained a fair amount of damage (and this from what was finally classified as an F1 storm…that is, a weak one)
Thanks to early detection, the time of day the storm hit and the presence of adequate shelter, there were no fatalities. Multiple agencies assembled to assist in the clean up efforts. When all was said and done, we were pretty lucky. This was not a terribly powerful storm as such storms go, and the infrastructure for recovery was not significantly impacted. This is not always the case. Even in the US, disasters like the Joplin, MO tornado or “Superstorm Sandy” can wreak enormous havoc. The assistance and coordination of disaster relief agencies is critical.
As you know from Jazzbaby, our latest SpReAD the Love challenge is directed at raising awareness and support for the amazing work these agencies do, by blogging about a personal connection we have with one of them. Although I have thankfully never needed their services, I have an almost life long history with Church World Service via my church. CWS is a multi-denominational organization that was founded in 1946 to aid in recovery efforts in Europe following World War II. It gradually grew and expanded to the global assistance agency that it is today. I think probably my first exposure to CWS was via the annual CROP Walk for global hunger relief. More recently, I’ve become more familiar with their worldwide efforts at developing sustainable water resources .
Although they have expanded their reach tremendously, CWS remains an active agent in disaster relief efforts in the US and around the world both in terms of supplying immediate assistance in the form of needed supplies and emergency blankets and in terms of coordination of long term recovery resources. It has only been in the past few years (years that my own family has often seen times of financial hardship) that I’ve realized how something that seems so small…a kit with a bar of soap, a comb, nail clippers, or a $5 blanket… can make a HUGE difference to a person who has literally just lost EVERYTHING.
Being able to help in this way gives me a lighter heart every time, so I am currently on a team coordinating both the supply kit drive and the blanket drive at my church. I am also proud to report that the tradition of joyful giving that my mother instilled in me seems to have taken firm root in my daughter. Her birthday is coming up on August 24th (I know!! The anniversary of the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius!!) and in lieu of gifts for her, she has requested that her guests bring either a case of bottled water or a hygiene supply kit to be donated to disaster relief. I think she’s got the SpReAd the Love bug!