Cooperative Baptist Fellowship joins Red Cross, others in Sandy fund

Jeff Brumley, Associated Baptist Press News —The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is joining forces with some of the biggest names in disaster relief and social services to provide long-term assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

A CBF representative and the Fellowship’s logo appeared at a Tuesday news conference in Manhattan along with those from the American Red Cross, United Way, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and Islamic Relief USA, among others, to announce a new fund to help victims still struggling from the 2012 super storm.

CBF Responds announced a pledge of $75,000 over three years toward what is being called the NYC Sandy Unmet Needs Fund. Metro Baptist Church of Manhattan pledged another $50,000 (the remainder of its Sandy donations from various churches and other groups).

The Red Cross is the biggest donor, with a $2.9-million contribution.

The fund is managed by New York Disaster Interfaith Services, an ecumenical organization that will use the money — which totals about $7 million from all contributors — to provide rent and mortgage assistance, utility payments, relocation and transportation services, debt management and legal consultations for those still struggling to recover from the storm.

Metro Baptist Pastor Alan Sherouse said he was inspired to see CBF counted as one of the key players in long-term disaster relief.

“It felt great representing CBF amidst so many active agencies,” said Sherouse, who attended the event for the Fellowship and his congregation.

Tuesday’s event occurred on the heels of CBF’s General Assembly in North Carolina, where the theme hammered home by Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and other officials was cooperation and partnerships as the keys to the Fellowship’s future.

“These are the type of agencies we want to partner with,” Sherouse said. “They are all committed to the kind of sustainable, long-haul effort that has characterized CBF — and all are committed to partnership across boundaries.”

The focus on long-term disaster recovery, verses being an immediate responder, has long been CBF’s approach and it’s become the constant refrain of Disaster Coordinator Tommy Deal.

And it’s why the Sandy recovery fund sounded good to CBF, Deal said.

“We find our strength in longevity and rebuilding communities, and that’s what we heard when meeting with this group,” Deal said.

Also attractive is the way the money will be distributed, Deal said. A roundtable of participating stakeholders will review cases of dire, unmet need, and Sherouse is a member of that committee.

“The term ‘unmet needs’ just kept ringing very clear to us with CBF’s mantra to go to the unreached people groups,” he said. “That has always been our missional focus and in disaster response our approach has been to go where unmet needs are.”

Tuesday’s news conference helped draw wider attention to that practice, Sherouse said. “These are all groups that are doing that, and the sense in the room was that CBF is doing that, too.”



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