While the United States continues to reel from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, they are not without aid. And, the chances are high that those who receive aid will thanks to assistance and coordination from a faith-based group. Paul Singer, writing for USA Today, pointed to FEMA’s recommendation to donate through the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. How many organizations are faith-based? About 75 percent, Singer noted.
Examples from Singer included Christian denominations, such as the Seventh Day Adventists, which organizes material aid. There’s also the United Methodists with their Committee on Relief for “case management.” There are also notable Christian organizations, such as the Convoy of Hope, which is non-denominational, and the evangelical Samaritan’s Purse, Rev. Franklin Graham’s group.
It’s not just Christian groups either, as Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim groups have also provided aid,
The United Methodist Committee on Relief is recommended as a safe charity to donate to, with mentions from the Texas Tribune and MassLive.com, which points to its A+ rating. Catholic Charities USA, of Catholic Relief Services also receives mention for its A+ rating, and is included in the New York Times’ list as well.
Following Hurricane Harvey, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a press release about their “Emergency National Collection to Assist Dioceses Affected by Hurricane Harvey.”
For those who don’t think much of what faith-based groups do, this excerpt from Singer is particularly relevant:
In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.
Fortunately, faith-based groups and FEMA provide assistance while standing by each other, for the most part. Following Hurricane Harvey, churches sued FEMA to receive aid, with backing from President Trump. The president has donated $1 million of his personal finances towards hurricane victims, with money going to various organizations, including faith-based ones.
Still, there is praise and cooperation between the private and public sector. Rev. Jamie Johnson, director of the Department of Homeland’s Security Center for Faith-Based & Neighboring Partnerships called it “a beautiful relationship” and said “it is something to behold.”
For those who may have concerns about the mingling of government and faith-based groups, Johnson said that “FEMA does not assign work to the state agencies or the faith-based groups,” but that “we affirm the work that they are already doing.” He explained how “FEMA brings the groups into its national command center to work with us because they have their people on the ground.”