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CWS Emergency Response Program Names
Five Full-Time Domestic Disaster Responders

April 11, 2002, NEW YORK CITY – In a landmark change, the Church World Service Emergency Response Program (ERP) has announced the appointment of five full-time staff members who will respond to disasters in the United States. Assisting the five full-time Disaster Response and Recovery Liaisons (DRRLs) will be up to15 contract individuals who will work on an "as needed" basis.

The change marks a new era for the Emergency Response Program, which up until now has relied on the work of a network of volunteers for responding to domestic disasters, said ERP Director Rick Augsburger.

"This is an exciting development for the Emergency Response Program," he said. "The new structure should improve the already strong paradigm for our domestic disaster response ministry and continue to propel the program into the future of the ever-changing disaster response and recovery environment."

The need for change has been prompted by increasing demands being placed on ERP volunteers for increased time commitment, professionalism, and the need to pursue advanced training. The "true" time and energy commitment required to coordinate, monitor, and follow-up effectively in domestic response to disaster requires a new structure for the ERP domestic program, Augsburger said.

"The work of our volunteer network has propelled CWS into the Domestic Disaster Response community as an invaluable source of guidance and support for faith groups in both emergency response and preparedness," he said.

Church World Service is a ministry of the 36 member communions of the National Council of Churches.  CWS supports emergency response, development and refugee assistance work in more than 80 countries, including the United States.

Those appointed to the full-time positions are:

The Rev. Lura J. Cayton, Oklahoma City, Okla., Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Cayton has worked as a volunteer disaster resource consultant for CWS and as coordinator of disaster recovery for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches since 2001. She has most recently served as senior minister of the Capitol Hill Christian Church, and is a former board member and treasurer of Interfaith Disaster Recovery of Greater Oklahoma City. She helped coordinate response during last year's tornado in Cordell, Okla. Cayton will begin her full-time assignment later this summer.

The Rev. Thomas Hart Davis, Augusta, Kan., Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Davis has served as disaster response consultant for Church World Service since 2000 and responded to the natural gas explosions of Hutchinson, Kan., in January 2001, while employed with the Wichita Hospice. Prior to that, Davis served as pastor of the Augusta Christian Church. He also served as director of the Augusta Area Flood Relief Aid Committee following a November 1999 flood, and supervised coordination of an intense recovery effort that lasted three years. Davis joined the team April 1.

Joann Hale, Buffalo, N.Y., United Church of Christ. Hale has been a volunteer consultant with CWS since 1987 and served as the Regional Facilitator for Regions I and II. She has been active in numerous CWS responses to domestic disasters, particularly in the Northeast; in the last six months, she has been the primary response coordinator for the CWS Sept. 11 response in the New York City area, working with interfaiths in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. In addition, Joann comes to the team with extensive experience in response to technological disasters. Hale will join the team April 15.

The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook, Salt Lake City, Utah, Episcopal Church. Van Hook has served as a volunteer consultant with Church World Service for the last 10 years, most recently as Regional Disaster Response Facilitator for Region VIII. Prior to that, he worked as a volunteer with the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, now Episcopal Relief and Development. Among the disasters he has responded to include the western Idaho Floods of 1998 and Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995. Van Hook joined the team April 1.

Lesli S. Remaly, Miami, Fla., United Church of Christ. Remaly has been director of FRIEND Inc.(Florida Regional Interfaith/Interagency Emergency Network in Disaster), since 2001, a group that formed in response to the "no-name" tropical storm that caused severe damage in the Miami area. Remaly is an educator. She has also worked as a Volunteer and Special Projects Consultant for Neighbors 4 Neighbors CBS, Channel 4, Miami, and in that capacity helped in efforts to raise $65,500 in funds for the September 11 tragedies. Remaly joined the team on April 1.

The contract "on-call" Disaster Response and Recovery Liaisons are:

1. Will Rabert, Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, United Church of Christ.
2. Dan Grimes, Newport News, Virginia, Presbyterian Church (USA).
3. Neil Molenaar, Bremerton, Washington, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.
4. Charles Moeller, Morganton, North Carolina, Lutheran Disaster Response.
5. Ellis Wykstra, Martin, Michigan, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.
6. Lynn Spencer, Frederiksted, United States Virgin Islands.
7. Rafael Moreno, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
8. Dick Eskes, Walnut Creek, California, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.
9. Cherri Baer, Clay Center, Kansas, United Methodist Committee on Relief.
10. Art Jackson, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee.
11. Christine Iverson, Atchison, Kansas, Lutheran Disaster Response.
12. Kimberly Schuler Hall, Chatsworth, California, Church of Latter Day Saints.

The change to a new system has been made with the full support of the CWS ERP Executive Committee, which, along with ERP staff, felt it was becoming increasingly clear that relying on a network of volunteers – no matter how dedicated and hard-working – had built-in limitations, given new pressures and demands in the field.

The ERP has often stretched "our volunteer network to its capacity - and sometimes beyond," said Linda Reed Brown, ERP Associate Director for Domestic Response, who called the change "charting new territory for the faith community as it faces increasing demands in disaster response."

Reed Brown, a former DRF, knows first-hand how challenging the role of a domestic disaster volunteer can be. "As a volunteer I could have spent 100 percent of the time for a job that was being asked of me," she said. "We’re excited that an opportunity has arrived to recognize the work of experienced and professional disaster responders."

In announcing the changes, Augsburger thanked the many volunteers who have worked on behalf of Church World Service in disaster response.

He said the change to a team of full-time disaster liaisons and contract "on-call" individuals is the natural culmination of 20 years of hard work and commitment by many CWS-ERP volunteers and is a tribute to their hard work. "The work of our volunteer network has propelled CWS into the Domestic Disaster Response community as an invaluable source of guidance and support for faith groups in both emergency response and preparedness," he said.

He added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross and other government and voluntary agencies look to the faith community to take the lead in forming long-term recovery organizations that address unmet disaster-caused needs.

Over the past 20 years, it is estimated that more than 100 persons gave significant amounts of time to volunteer on behalf of CWS for the good of disaster-affected communities. The last consultant network included volunteers from 30 states and represented 12 faith groups.

"There are not adequate words to express CWS’ appreciation for their many gifts," Reed Brown said, "nor is it possible to recognize the work that has brought both the demand and the support for such a dramatic change."

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