Monday, September 12, 2005

From Legacy's Katrina Blog

September 12, 2005
Adopting Katrina Families

As we mentioned on Sunday, the city of Plano is asking the faith community to adopt Katrina families as they are moved out of shelters and hotels into apartments. "Adopting a family" means that a church will find furniture and other household essentials for the family and then physically move those items into the family's new apartment.

Our plan at Legacy looks like this:

We are asking the Legacy church body to think about what nicely used or new furniture or household items you have which could be donated to the Katrina families. Late Tuesday we'll activate an online form (with a list of specific needs) that you can use to indicate what things you would like to donate. For now, be thinking about what someone would need if they were starting out in a three bedroom apartment from scratch. Of course, we'll be able to give the families almost everything that had been brought in last week for our shelter, and we can also use the funds that have been given toward Katrina relief as needed.

Once the church body signs up online to donate furniture and kitchen/bath essentials, a "champion" from Legacy for each Katrina family will contact those who have committed to donate and let you know when and where to bring the items you are donating.

If you have friends, neighbors, or co-workers who would like to donate things, please let them know about what Legacy is doing and direct them to use our online form when it is available late Tuesday.

I've already gotten to know several of the families that we'll most likely be adopting. They are wonderful people and SO appreciative of the help we are providing. I can't wait for you to meet them.

Thanks for your service to others!
Allen Arnn

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From Legacy Church's Katrina Info Blog

September 11, 2005

Next phase of relief
We want to thank you for your incredible outpouring of grace and love as you helped make Legacy's building ready to act as a shelter for hurricane survivors. The latest from the city of Plano is that Legacy will not need to house evacuees as the need for shelter is diminishing in Plano. We were called to prepare and we prepared in an amazing way. Thank you!

Next Phase: The city of Plano is now shifting the focus from sheltering people in large facilities to transitioning them into apartments. The city is asking churches to "adopt" families. Adopting a family" means finding or buying enough furniture to make an apartment livable and then helping the family move the furniture and their belongings into the apartment.

On Tuesday, I will attend a meeting with city of Plano officials and a few people from other Plano churches. We'll be pairing Katrina families in Plano with available apartments and with churches who can adopt them. Then, churches like Legacy can begin to use the money we've already raised and our further donations and volunteer hours to help these people get a fresh start. Legacy is making the faith commitment to adopt up to ten families if needed. By Tuesday, we'll have names and current location of families who we'll be adopting. Then, we'll send emails, update this website, and mobilize our body to act.

Here's what we need today:
- If you do not ever receive emails of Gene's "Pastor's Posting" please send your email address to Allen so that we can add you to the list and send you details this week about how you can volunteer.

- Be thinking about whether you have furniture or kitchen items (toaster, dishes, etc) that you could donate.

- If you gave a blow up mattress or used regular matress... thank you very much but that is the ONE item we will not need due to city requirements that matresses used in furnishing apartments for evacuees be new. If you can identify your blow-up or used matress in the Legacy Center, please take it some time this week. Please leave the pillows and bedding since we can use those for the families.

- Check your email and this website after Tuesday this week and prepare for the blessing of personally giving people a fresh start.

Thank you very much for all of your support so far. The biggest blessing is yet to come as we begin to personally minister to hurricane survivors by meeting their needs. Be praying for the Katrina vicitms; many of them are going through the hardest time of their lives.

Allen Arnn

A meal with hurricane survivors

Over the weekend my wife and I met a bunch of people from 5 households who make up a big extended family of hurricane survivors. They are staying at a hotel in our city until they can get apartments in the area. Tonight we had our small group families each bring a main dish for a big potluck. The families all came to our church building where they played basketball, jumped in bounce houses, ate a homecooked meal and "shopped" for free stuff in the "store" that our people have stocked with all kinds of necessities.

Our new friends were so appreciative. They could not stop thanking us for having them over.

The blessing was really all ours.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Our week at church

From my church's blog of "Katrina updates"

September 04, 2005

Legacy Shelter
Legacy has been designated as a Hurricane Relief Shelter by the City of Plano. This is part of the Collin County Emergency Operations Center relief efforts. Those coming to Legacy will be processed through the City offices and will be monitored by the city's processes of locating and caring for the evacuees.

We are humbled to join the City of Plano and the other churches in Plano and the surrounding communities who are opening their doors to those who have lost so much in the storms. Our prayers go out to them all, and we open our hearts and hands to serve them in the name of Jesus.

Currently, we are preparing for the arrival of evacuees by purchasing personal toiletry items, bedding, and bottled water. We will make needs known to you on this website as they become necessary.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Allen Arnn or call the church office.

We give this comfort because we have first received comfort from Christ:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-6)

September 05, 2005

Labor Day Update
The latest information from the City of Plano is:

The City has placed 118 evacuees at three Plano churches since Saturday evening.

The City currently is in a holding pattern until Wednesday or Thursday to receive other evacuees. The City is waiting for more who could be leaving hospitals and hotels in the next few days.

The City of Plano has set up three donation sites to collect and distribute goods to victims as needed.

Based on this information, Legacy has put all volunteer and meal efforts on hold til Wednesday at 2pm. We will keep the schedule beyond Wed 2pm as is but will call people if we need them before Wednesday at 2pm. We do not need more items for the shelter at this time.

Legacy Church is prepared to receive evacuees as we requested on Sunday. You responded immediately and in force. Your compassion and enthusiasm to serve those in need was exemplary of people on mission with Christ.

If our church is not chosen as a shelter site, we will decide the best way to share your donations of money and goods to the hurricane evacuees and invite you to help us in the distribution of those resources. We will also make you aware of volunteer opportunities in the community and beyond.

A possibility remains for work and relief groups to go to the hurricane areas to serve the people on location. We will continue to explore those possibilities and communicate them to you as they become possible.

The Pastor, staff and leadership of Legacy would like to thank everyone who has contributed your time, talents, and treasures to provide a potential shelter for those in need. You are a positive example to this community of the length Christ followers will go to serve other in the name of Jesus.

Please return to this site Wednesday and Thursday, September 7, 8, for the updates on our efforts to respond to the evacuees' needs.

If you have questions or comments, you can contact Allen Arnn or call the church offices at 972.618.4600.

Latest Update
Sept 7, 5:13 pm

Today we attended a city of Plano meeting with all the churches who are set up to act as shelters. Three churches are housing survivors and several, including Legacy, have not yet been needed. The situation continues to be very fluid. Some indications are that more sheltering will be needed in Plano; other indications are to the contrary.

The city of Plano has asked Legacy to remain ready to shelter people for 72 more hours. We will, however, lower our level of readiness. We are, for now, cancelling all volunteers scheduled for shelter work. If the city does need us, they will give us 6 to 8 hours to ramp back up. We know that Legacy will be ready to sign up again for volunteering later this week if the need arises.

The city asked Legacy to be prepared and thanks to your help we are prepared in an incredible way. If we do not end up housing survivors here at Legacy, we'll have the great privilege of sharing all the donations we’ve received here and also our volunteer hours with other shelters or with Katrina survivors in some other way.

Please come Sunday ready to participate in the next phase. God is in control of everything and I know that whether we house survivors or give in other ways God is pleased with Legacy’s servant heart. We have an amazing church body!

Allen Arnn

Latest Update
Friday, Sept 9, 5:45pm
I'll post more info later, but here is the latest. At this point, the city has determined that Legacy does not any longer need to plan for the possibility of housing survivors in our building. The city of Plano is very, very appreciative of our being prepared, but the need for shelters is diminishing to a level of need that can be met by the 3 churches in town which are already housing people.

There are some very exciting things which the city is asking us to do as a church here locally for survivors using the money we've collected, the things donated and our volunteer hours. I'll write more about this later tonight and we'lll talk about it on Sunday.

You are a great church body!
Allen Arnn

September 09, 2005

What we can do
As I mentioned earlier, we have exciting job ahead of us in helping the hurricane survivors among us in Plano. The city of Plano is working very closely with churches to assist survivors as they move into more permanent housing. The city's part of the deal is to find apartments and get the rent and utilities paid for a certain number of months. The city is asking churches to assist by "adopting families". "Adopting a family" means finding or buying enough furniture to make an apartment livable and then helping the family move the furniture and their belongings into the apartment.

On Tuesday, I will attend a meeting with city of Plano officials and a few people from other Plano churches. We'll be pairing Katrina families in Plano with available apartments and with churches who can adopt them. Then, churches like Legacy can begin to use the money we've already raised and our further donations and volunteer hours to help these people get a fresh start.

Though I'm glad we prepared to be used as a shelter, I think this shift toward helping people move into their own new home will be even more rewarding and more helpful to the survivors.

In case you did not read yet: The city of Plano has determined that the demand for shelter in Plano has diminished to the point where Legacy will not be needed to house survivors. Six churches prepared as shelters; three churches were actually needed. I say, "Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared".

I'll close this post by saying that I think the city officials in Plano are doing a terrific job of responding in a situation that is VERY difficult to manage. I've heard that hurricane survivors living as far away as Grand Prairie are coming to Plano for assistance because Plano is doing a good job of meeting the needs that exist.

We'll talk more about all of this on Sunday. Be thinking about whether you have furniture you could donate and prepare for the great blessing of physically helping a family move into a new home.


Providing Katrina Relief in North Texas

I’ve had a very interesting week. On Friday, Sept 2, I attended Red Cross training on “shelter operations” with the plan of volunteering in one of the Dallas shelters. On Saturday I got a call from my pastor that I needed to attend a city meeting in our suburb where churches were being asked to set up shelters in their buildings. So I went from shelter-ignorant… to shelter-aware… to leading my church’s shelter efforts in 2 days. We committed to the city to act as a shelter, and we were ready to house 50 survivors. Our church body gave AMAZING amounts of supplies, bedding, food and money. Our worship center has been tranformed into a dorm. Our 24/7 volunteer schedule was on it’s way to filling up. Only one problem… we had no Katrina victims for our shelter. Six churches were prepared to shelter, but only three ended up being needed. I'm glad we had too many shelters instead of too few.

Even though we did not shelter people in our church a lot of good came out of the effort.

- We have greatly increased community among our church members
- We’ve seen our fairly small church respond in incredible ways
- We’ll be ready next time there is a disaster or terrorist attack
- We can give our loads of supplies in other ways
Now, we have further opportunities. I'll copy the posts from our church's Katrina "latest update" blog.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Relief for Katrina Refugees

I've been trying to figure out what I should do to help with hurricane relief in some way. Should I go the the coast? Should I send money?

As I began to hear that a large number of refugees would be right here in the Dallas metroplex, I knew I had to get out and do something. With the tsunami, I didn't have serious thoughts about actually going. With this disaster I can't not do something. It's too close to home. If I just comfortably go about living a surburban, Plano lifestyle right through this tragedy I have no business calling myself a Christian. I either need to give sacrificial amounts of cash or I need to give sacrificial amounts of time or both. In this case, I don't want to just give cash. I want to encourage some refugees face-to-face. I want to learn close up what they are experiencing and provide for their needs. I think this relates to what Bill Hybels has said... Don't medicate your holy discontent... feed it and grow it until you do something about it. A relief effort on this scale can change us if we'll let it.

So... I'm trying to get involved. Tomorrow I'm going to a day of training with the Red Cross to learn how I can help as they provide shelters in the Dallas area.