Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Domestic Program - Karah Ricketts talk at 2011 Ripple Effect

edited for readability: Karah Ricketts - VP Domestic Missions talk at the 2011 Ripple Effect Banquet on September 24, 2011

Hi, thank you for being such a great group tonight.

I am Karah Ricketts. Tonight, I am talking about our Domestic program.

Back in 2008 when we first started hearing God’s call to “Go..” we knew we were going to work internationally, but our hearts have always been right here at home too. We grew up doing local mission work and knew that we would need to keep that part of drops of grace alive and vibrant.

We began our Domestic program working on hurricane torn areas on the coast of Texas: working in LaMarque and Beaumont.

While on the coast, back in Williamson County, Texas, tropical storm Hermine was pouring down...
In September 2010, Tropical Storm Hermine sat upon Williamson County and dumped more rain than what it would take to get us out of the drought now. Over 600 homes were affected in one way or another. Unfortunately, for many home owners, FEMA did not declare this area a Federal Disaster.

drops of grace partnered with VOAD, Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster-Williamson County to begin the vetting process of assisting the local homeowners here. This was a great opportunity for drops of grace. We were able to work alongside some of the finest nonprofits in Williamson County. Weekly meetings took place for months as we worked on and narrowed down the list of homeowners and marked them off as they finished each house. Many homes were bulldozed and only 8 homes came to the table for assistance from the county. Many homes were partners with local churches and only a few fell into the cracks where drops of grace would be able to assist. We worked with ADRN, Austin Disaster Relief Network, The Serving Center, United Way, the First United Methodist church of Round Rock as well as the county OEM (office of emergency management).

Here we are, a full year out, we are almost complete with the wrapping up of these homes. Over $60,000 was raised to put toward the rebuild of the 8 homes but the man power was almost 100% donated. I will estimate that we, as a community, have logged in a huge number of hours. There are several of us in this room tonight from the various agencies who alone have logged in more than 100 days of over 8 hours each day in the past year and I know I have seen many of you working on these homes. We were privileged to host a young ladies birthday party, her 18th birthday at that, at one house in which she and her friends painted the entire home in one day! They celebrated with the owner; had cake and then continued painting. This is part of what drops of grace is all about. This young lady was such an inspiration that others have come forward wanting to do the same for their graduation party & birthday party - this is a true ripple effect!  She is off at college, still doing mission work, helping others and placing drops of joy everywhere she goes. There is no doubt in my mind that her ripple will be in constant motion for the remainder of her life and will cause others around her to produce their own ripples in ways we might never know.

In Joplin, Missouri -

In April and May of this year, the United States took a hit of tornados all over. April alone produced 1032 and May added another 200 and 4 reached F5 categories.

drops of grace immediately called in to UMCOR to get on the list of rebuild groups willing to come and help. I knew we would have groups wanting to get together and go and help out and that is just what happened. We took many calls and inquiries about what and when drops of grace would go and help. Remember, the mission of drops of grace is to:

"hear and act on God’s call to partner with communities around the world to provide safe water, sanitation, health, education and shelter."

What does that mean with domestic response? What it means is that we are compassionate caring people who want to jump right in and help, but first, before we jump, we have to know what we are good at. We are good at relief & recovery.  As you heard Gregg Bouchard say, we are not first responders. We are relief & rebuilding and while we want to go and do, we “first hear & act on God’s call” we must be still and know that He is God, He will direct us where we need to be and when. In June, we received word that Joplin was ready for teams to begin coming in to rebuild. They came online sooner than Tuscaloosa, Alabama which was hit a month prior to Joplin. Off we went, on a mission…a mission to find a group to partner with.  Remember our mission statement…to partner with communities.  We went and we interviewed several agencies and we decided to invest our time and resources with a group called Relief Spark.  They are a group who are based in New Orleans, formed after Hurricane Katrina, but the founder is from Joplin. This group hit the ground running in Joplin the first week after the tornado hit. Ben Tarpley is a volunteer who runs this group on the ground. He began working with over 500 volunteers a day, not only doing case management, but finding groups to rebuild and fundraise.

We took a group of 10 individuals, 3 of whom have never participated in mission work prior to this, to Joplin in September for the Labor Day weekend. We were able to work on and provide a loving touch to 4 families. We put a new roof on the Kruegers’ house in less than 13 hours. We worked with Jennifer Morris, who is a young military girl who during the storm was helping people to safety in the local Walmart – where 8 died – she then spent the next long hours helping to pull people from the debris, all the while not realizing her own home and neighborhood was destroyed. We helped her sheetrock her home, yes – she worked right alongside us - something we learned a lot about right here in Round Rock.  We pulled down a 60 foot fence with only 4 sets of hands and worked with the Coss’s, a determined family who refused to let the tornado take away their home. 

We are set to return on Dec 17-232011 that is right! the week before Christmas. Are you looking for an alternative gift to give or get? What better way to spend your vacation at Christmas time then helping someone else celebrate with a gift they will never forget.  [please contact us at: info@dropsofgrace.org for more information]

We are happy to arrange trips for you and your friends, your church or even just your family. The rebuild phase to bring Joplin back is expected to take many years. We have developed great relationships with the people of Joplin. They are true survivors with a deep sense of community – something drops of grace connects with. We plan to continue doing work there for several years.

BASTROP, Texas -

And finally, Bastrop, the wildfires of just a few weeks ago. While we were in Joplin, fires were burning here.  Bastrop will take several years to rebuild from these fires, as you heard earlier – it will take nearly 5 years! to get back to a semblance of normalcy, if they ever can. We are in current talks with ADRN to see where drops of grace will help with the rebuilds. Right now they are still in the response phase with movement to relief, the fires are contained. There are many places taking donations of property, but what they are asking for is money and gift cards to places like Home Deport or Lowes. I would like to encourage you to seek a place for you and your family to help in our area. There are places now that are sorting the items that were donated, trashing the items which should not have been donated and setting up a center for people to come and shop for what they have lost. It is unfathomable to many ofus what it would be like to loose everything! 

If you have items you want to donate please consider bringing them to the drops of grace garage sale, where we will sell the items and use the money to help with the domestic program right here. [If you are interested in future mission work here, please email us at: info@dropsofgrace.org]

drops of grace is here to help our neighbors. Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought that we would be working so hard in our own backyards, but I am so grateful to have the support of our community, our church, our friends and our family, I want you know we will continue to represent you and your money with honor and hard work. 100% of your donations go towards our mission programs as we are a 100% volunteer organization. 

God Bless.

No comments:

Post a Comment