We were approached by the Penn SE Conf. / UCC’s Disaster Response Coordinator, Rev. Karl Jones, to see if Old First might be able to be good neighbors and help out. What disaster… since neither California wildfires nor Caribbean hurricanes nor Mexican earthquakes have happened near us?
Karl has been working with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. They are responding to the crises in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria laid the island low. Things are so bad there, that evacuees are showing up in Philadelphia.
While new people are turning up at the Disaster Emergency Response Center office established by the state in Kensington, as of earlier this week, 28 families and 40 non-dependent individuals have been registered for help.
Short and long-term housing are the most pressing needs facing the evacuees in Philadelphia (and the caseworkers who are serving them). Unfortunately, the federal government’s current disaster declaration for the island is not expansive enough to provide Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to help with housing.
Old First has offered to house an evacuee family temporarily in the 3rd floor apartment in the Christian Education building. The need is immediate, and we may have a family in residence before this weekend. We are just being asked to help with housing as casework for their other needs is being provided by the state.
We could use some help from the Old First community making the apartment ready for a small family. Does anyone have furniture, beds, linens, lamps and houseware we might use to make the apartment welcoming to a family that is arriving without much than the clothes on their backs? If you have donations to make, please be in touch with Woody in the church office.
There is some possibility that funds may become available to the church to help with the costs involved in housing this family. We are in a conversation with the national setting of the UCC which may have funding to provide through the Special Offering that was taken up to help in the face of Hurricane Maria. And it is hoped that eventually FEMA funds may become available for rental assistance. But we are moving ahead on faith, because we believe it’s what the church calls us to do as good neighbors.
We hope you can help us welcome our new neighbors and make them feel welcome in our community.