2019 Lowe’s Reconstruction Grant

This grant allowed National VOAD to distribute $235,050 to 10 organizations.

The Lowe’s Reconstruction Grant Program was made possible through a generous donation from Lowe’s and was designed to enable the acquisition of reconstruction material supplies in recovery projects in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and California. 

Jefferson County LTRG was awarded with $43,750 to establish an office space for the Southeast Texas Emergency Relief Fund.

In April of 2018 the LTRG grant assisted Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRG) as they worked with survivors rebuilding and recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The 2018 Hurricane Harvey Texas LTRG Grant Program was made possible by The Prudential Center.  

$37,500 distributed amongst 9 National VOAD Members.

In November of 2018, the Island Recovery Grant Program was initiated by National VOAD. The grant was made possible through a generous donation from the UPS
Foundation and was designed to direct funds for recovery efforts in Hawaii, US Virgin Islands and American

Funding was specific to recovery efforts for the following events:
• Hawaii 2017 and 2018, All Disasters Events
• USVI 2017 Hurricanes
• American Samoa 2018, Tropical Cyclone Gita

Award amounts ranged from $500 to $5,000, and $27,000 was awarded to 8 different organizations across 3 States.

National VOAD was pleased to announce the Hurricane Matthew Recovery Grant Program in October 2017. The Hurricane Matthew Recovery Grant Program was made possible through a generous donation from the UPS Foundation and was designed to direct funds to the recovery efforts of Hurricane Matthew.

Grant awards were designated to support an organization’s recovery program operational needs, not for direct client assistance. Eligible requests for the Hurricane Matthew Recovery Grant included the following:

  • Supplies and Equipment Replace or repair lost/damaged supplies and equipment
  • Purchase new supplies and equipment
  • Travel and related incidental expenses for staff or volunteers deployed to affected disaster areas
  • Technology-Cell phones, computers, tablets, etc.
  • Operational Needs-Recovery program printing and communication needs.
  • Outreach Activities

In late 2016, National VOAD distributed $5,000 grants to six organizations working to help communities in West Virginia recover from severe flooding. The funding for this grant was provided by the UPS Foundation. Projects ranged from the purchase of mobile food pantries, to the photographic documentation of the damage, to the development of Long-Term Recovery Groups, to the building of homes.

In 1970, six faith organizations and the American Red Cross came together to address inequities of disaster response in the U.S. and formed National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

Progressing forward 50 years – NVOAD has become a venue for Cooperation, Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration (4Cs) across all faith communities, secular organizations, local/state/territory/federal government agencies, and private sector businesses.

NVOAD recognizes that communities can be devastated by human caused events or natural hazards; and that a disaster is anything that an individual or community cannot recover from on its’ own.

RACISM is a human caused disaster.  The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery were murder.  We all must participate in this nationwide response! Our communities cannot recover without intentional ongoing directed response to racism. Lack of action is complicity.  There can be no Peace without Justice – no recovery without resources. 

National VOAD promises to be engaged.

COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live. As National VOAD members and organizations that are accustomed to working in chaotic disaster environments, this pandemic has presented challenges never before encountered. Though we have all participated in exercises that talk about a nationwide effect – I never envisioned a simultaneous activation of every State/Territory EOC; Federal engagement from every agency; closure of all businesses, faith facilities; an insufficient supply of PPE and medical facilities; and a worldwide lockdown of citizens. I still sometimes wondering if I am dreaming.

I have immense pride in our National VOAD members and your ability to embrace DIFFERENT! You have adapted to circumstances that change hourly/daily, created innovative programs and partnerships, moved to a virtual work environment, envisioned procedures to deploy volunteers safely, and worked together for the benefit of everyone affected by this pandemic. The linkages to philanthropy, government entities, and private sector support have never been as critical as they are now. Innovative partnerships have become the norm and we encourage you to explore new possibilities for your organizations. Please reach out to National VOAD staff for questions, conversations, and introductions as you explore mass feeding programs, medical outreach, childcare programs, educational materials, etc..

National VOAD was heartbroken to have to cancel our 50th Anniversary celebration and our National Conference in Pheonix, AZ. We had looked forward to seeing and learning from all of you. We continue to work on the Strategic Plan that you approved. We initiated the State/Territory capacity building project in the Midwest region and have recently expanded baseline analysis to the Southeastern states along with Puerto Rico/USVI. National VOAD identified additional resources – financial and in-kind – that we have made available to members. New organizations are being evaluated for membership by the Board of Directors. The Board is also convening a Diversity/Equity/Inclusion task force to be intentional in membership and leadership development. In the midst of COVID-19 response, a new National VOAD website was launched and we just signed a contract for the State/Territory websites. We hope that you have found value in the resources and support that we have been providing.

Though 2020 started with tornadoes and regional flooding – it has managed to create additional challenges with a nationwide pandemic and already two named storms for the hurricane season.

You and your agencies continue to innovate and adapt! As we have learned over our 50 years of NVOAD existence – none of us can do this alone! Thank you for the mission and ministry that you provide for the benefit our nation. Together we can overcome any challenge – lean in – lean on – and encourage one another!

Respectfully – with grace and peace,

Greg Forrester, President & CEO

By: Michael Rojas

I had an idea of where I saw myself in the future. This idea always ended with me helping those in need. I had always envisioned myself as an educator and one year, I saw it come to fruition. I was fortunate enough to become a Special Education Art teacher in my home state of New York. I began to think of what this potential future might look like one day. I saw the extent of the impact I was able to make in a short time on my student’s lives and wanted to branch out to something on a larger scale. It became clear my path was leading me directly to disaster relief.

Having no previous related experience, I understood finding the right opportunity was crucial. Luckily, I found one of the most unique listings that stood out from the rest. Habitat for Humanity of Iowa had created the first Habitat Disaster Mobile Response Team in the country. The team is a statewide resource, currently responding to the July 19th Marshalltown tornado, headquartered in Marshalltown, IA. In April 2019, we kicked off our repair goals with the Blitz Build: Marshalltown Hammers Back! This Blitz was at the top of our most successful events in the state – especially in an area that is not currently served by a Habitat affiliate. We were able to touch 36 homes, engaging almost 600 volunteers over 5 days.

While we continue to work on homes here in Marshalltown, we also respond to disasters across Iowa and support rural housing builds in communities that need our assistance. Midway through my AmeriCorps term, the Mobile Response Team heeded the call to deploy to South West Iowa in July 2019 to provide flood recovery to Mills and Fremont counties. Going down to Southwest Iowa was a revelation to me. It was one of the most incredible experiences that I had ever been a part of. We were joined by two other AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams in the Washington Conservation Corps and an NCCC team. It was a seamless integration into one cohesive ADRT team that understood thoroughly the principles of what it meant to be an AmeriCorps. Due to our work ethic, tenacity, and general leadership we were able to make our way through our work at a tremendous rate. The days in which I was exhausted in the 113-degree heat, I was able to lean on my coworkers and teammates. I was able to put what we were doing into perspective as I talked to the survivors that were relieved to see a friendly face. It was truly a testament to our teamwork and flexibility that we were able to accomplish so much in such a short time.

During our time mucking and gutting in a town called Percival, we had been dubbed their “Angels” by the local community members. During their organized “Clean-Up” day we worked with community members and other locals that had driven in across the state to contribute to the effort. With our ADRT team, we made quick work of what was originally thought to be a two-day event. We finished half of the schedule before noon and then almost finished the full agenda before the end of the day. It was a grueling hot summer day and the elements were an issue. In my mind, however, I couldn’t fight the urge to completely give all the energy I had that day to the town of Percival. I felt as if it would have been a disservice to their community who had rallied so beautifully in a combined effort to restore themselves to a new normal. I spent my breaks chatting with the locals and town officials. They had commended me for my efforts but in my heart, I knew that I needed no affirmation. This was what I had signed up for and this was the job that I had grown to love so dearly. The companionship and comradery that we had grown on deployment is something that I found to be irreplaceable. We had forged everlasting bonds through service, and it is something that I am truly grateful for every day.

Having seen these affected areas and to know what these survivors have gone through stoked a flame in my heart to continue disaster relief work and to continue to provide whatever support I can give. I gained the utmost confidence in myself to know that I have to ability to help others in these conditions and create bonds of friendship within an affected community. Not only had our team grown in a professional capacity but we had grown as individuals as well. This was an experience that had been one of the most powerful catalysts for growth I had ever been a part of. It is an understatement to say that being able to help the people of Fremont and Mills counties had been one of the greatest highlights of my life and for that, I am truly thankful.

By: Richard Morris, Regional VAL

Like our partners, we at FEMA are adapting to life in this pandemic environment. While we may not be able to meet in person right now, the VAL team is committed to supporting our partners in any way possible as you work on the front lines to serve impacted community’s, not just by COVID-19, but from natural disasters as well. We’d like to share with you the story of one of our Region VI VALs, Richard E. Morris, as he adjusts to working remotely.

My name is Richard E. Morris and I have the honor of being a Regional VAL. I’m stationed at FEMA Region VI in Denton, TX where our states are Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

There are 3 words I could use to describe how I am adapting to working in this COVID-19 environment: interesting, challenging and rewarding/humbling. Since March 21, I have been deployed to our RRCC, both virtually and physically. Even before I was deployed to the RRCC, as the virus began sweeping through our states in the region, I found myself busier than normal as State VOADs and other partners began having calls to discuss response and recovery efforts.

For the past few weeks, I have been supporting the RRCC virtually where I have found that coordination and communication have been difficult to adapt to. To make those two things more difficult, we had to almost learn to adapt to them quickly after leadership informed us to start working from home without much notice – but that is what being an emergency manager is all about, being flexible.

For me, the communication and coordination piece has had many moving parts as policies within our own region, the RRCC, and even HQ, can and has changed, where it can be sometimes difficult to keep up with what the most recent guidance is. We hold regional IA Weekly Branch Calls as well as daily team check in calls which has helped me, and our staff stay up to date on where things are.

Adapting to this new work environment has been challenging and interesting due to the size and scope of the event. Where sometimes there might be two disasters within Region 6 that might have disasters going on, all five of our states have been effected by COVID-19. This has made it somewhat difficult as the VAL and Mass Care person working the RRCC as all states have State VOAD and Mass Care/Feeding/ESF #6 Calls. Many of the calls have been either been daily, 3x a week or once per week. Adding other calls from HQ, Region 6, RRCC and beyond have forced me to adapt in being flexible and being “on top of my game.”

Lastly, I would say adapting to this COVID-19 work environment has been rewarding and humbling. I say this because not only has this virus changed the way I work at FEMA, but it has also changed how I (and the general public) go about my daily life. With stay at home orders in place where I live in Dallas, restaurants, movie theaters, sports, etc. have either been cancelled or shut down until more guidance has been given by local officials. It has made me appreciate all the things life had to offer prior to COVID-19. Right now, walking my dog outside in the park, especially after working a 10-hr. day feels like Christmas came early two-fold. I also say it is rewarding and humbling because unlike many others, I am employed and still able to provide for myself financially. To sum it all up, working this COVID-19 event, even with the challenging work environment it can present, being able to assist our States and VOAD Partners with resources, donations and just simply letting them know you are with them every step of the way always puts the biggest smile on my face.