Unification News for October, 2001

WTC: IRFF and UTS Respond!

Dr. Kathy Winings
Vice President of IRFF Board
Dean of UTS-NYC

September 11th is a day that will live in the memory of people the world over. For the first time since its founding, the United States suffered a man-made disaster. However, out of the ashes of that disaster, has come a response of love and compassion in the thousands of volunteers who have come to help, the thousands of dollars donated for the effort, and the thousands of hours that will be spent in helping one another. IRFF is no exception to this.

Because the disaster hit in IRFF's backyard, so to speak, we were compelled to act as quickly as possible to respond to this horrific devastation. By the second day, Dr. Kathy Winings, IRFF's Vice President of the International Board, had gone to Ground Zero to offer counseling, prayer and support. During one of those sessions, Dr. Winings was able to connect with other partner agencies who offer aid in disasters such as the Salvation Army and Adventist Services. It was decided that IRFF would assume responsibility for finding volunteers to prepare food for the thousands of rescue workers who had assembled at Ground Zero to look for survivors. It was at this point that UTS joined the effort. Faculty and students readily volunteered to help the disaster work as well.

From Saturday, September 15th, IRFF began to make sandwiches which were then transported directly to the disaster site. For 3 days, IRFF supported this effort - much to the gratitude and appreciation of the Salvation Army post in New York City. IRFF brought together teens, adults, and families to support this program. Included in the first day of work was Massimo Trombin, Field Director for IRFF and John Gehring, the executive director of IRFF. Word quickly spread among the teens that there was a way to help in this disaster. Soon, IRFF's phone was busy with offers of help.

Since that time,  IRFF has now begun a new phase of its response for the disaster. We are working in collaboration with Christian Disaster Response, a fellow NVOAD partner based in Florida, to provide Needs Assessment for Unmet Needs. Families, victims, and anyone affected by the WTC tragedy are encouraged to come to 43rd Street to our Needs Assessment Facility to register and discuss their needs. They will then be directed to immediate help and services to meet those needs. They will also be able to simply talk about the experience and receive counseling from the staff as well. Again, UTS has supported this effort by providing the space for the Needs Assessment work. Additionally, the World Mission Center has also been extremely supportive by housing Christian Disaster Response.

In addition, IRFF has also launched "Letters of Hope," a letter writing campaign for children and youth. Schools are being approached by IRFF to ask their children to send letters of encouragement, hope and gratitude to the rescue workers, firemen, policemen, and victims of the tragedy. They will be dropped off at Boxes of Hope in their school. IRFF will then pick up these boxes and deliver the childrens' letters of hope and encouragement.

Finally, IRFF is working in cooperation with the American Family Coalition and American Clergy Leadership Conference on the "One Church/One Family" project. This is an effort to connect churches and faith communities around the country with those affected by the disaster. This is an excellent way to bring diverse people and families together for spiritual support, heartful encouragement, and, in some instances, actual support and aid. Churches and faith communities wishing to participate and families hit by the disaster wishing to participate, can be brought together to share and learn from each other. Already we have several cities and churches calling us to participate. As a key part of this project, IRFF and CDR will provide training to help each of the boroughs of New York as well as communities in New Jersey and Connecticut open Needs Assessment/Healing Centers of their own. This massive effort will involve the support of many faith-based organizations and community-based agencies as well as the city and state of New York.

This effort will be a long term plan for IRFF and Christian Disaster Response. We will be dealing with thousands and thousands of families conceivably. Regardless of how long this program takes, IRFF, with the support of UTS, AFC, and the public, is committed to doing what it can to provide hope, healing, recovery, and peace to any and all who need it. We pray that, in time, there will be no more man-made disasters of this magnitude and that we can once again live as a global family.

For further information or if you wish to donate, please contact Dr. Winings at IRFF at IRFFint@aol.com, or 914-366-0558 (phone/fax) or 177 White Plains Road, 50F, Tarrytown, NY 10591. Thank you.

Dr. Winings is Vice President of the IRFF Board and Dean of UTS-NYC.

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