Helping Your Neighbor – Disaster Relief & Volunteer Opportunities
Helping our neighbors provides an excellent witness
Hopefully, you will never have to experience a natural disaster. If you do, however, it is said that the key to survival is not the aid that you receive from officials like the police and fire department; it’s your neighbors. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, isn’t it a blessing to belong to our worldwide brotherhood in such times on need? Such connections and local cooperation are what ultimately help those communities recover.
The Benefits of Community Connections
Natural disasters caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage in the U.S. in 2015. When a community experiences a major catastrophe, it can take a long time for responders to arrive at the scene. However, people often know where their friends, brothers and sisters and neighbors sleep. After an earthquake, the person who lives next door may know where to look in the rubble. When the electricity goes out, you may know that your neighbor across the street, or a friend in the congregation needs a generator to supply power to his aging mother’s breathing machine. Following these disasters, your neighbors are in great need of assistance in putting the pieces back together. Don’t miss those opportunities to serve, not only those in the congregation, but others as well.
Disaster Assistance Efforts
Communities that have experienced a grand-scale tragedy can apply for disaster assistance on FEMA’s website or DisasterAssistance.gov. This will give them access to resources such as temporary housing, losses that are not protected by insurance and assistance with repairs. FEMA also offers the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System, which helps find family members who may have become lost during a declared state of emergency.
How to Help
In a disaster, even the government relies on the help of the public. Most cities have “disaster relief committees” set up by the local branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are made of of trained elders who know exactly what to do when disaster strikes. If you are able to provide assistance during an emergency, please let the elders know. You can also find out how to work with disaster relief organizations at Volunteer.gov. Disaster relief volunteer opportunities are also available at USA.gov. Both of these websites allow you to find volunteer work in your area even when there’s not a natural disaster. Taking time to volunteer regularly provides an excellent opportunity to give a witness. Moreover, it will help you get to know the people and places in your community, making it easier for you to give or receive help if you do ever experience a natural disaster.