Learn more about Disaster Recovery in NJ!

Celebrate! with us as we launch our LSMNJ Disaster Recovery social media experience. You can now follow the latest news, updates, and events from our Super Storm Sandy recovery efforts in New Jersey on Facebook, Google+, and Instagram! Check us out!

If you have volunteered with us in New Jersey we hope you’ll share your story on our pages and post some of your photos. The work continues and thousands of people here remain out of their homes and frustrated as we approach the 2nd anniversary of the storm. Support their recovery by spreading the word that more needs to be done!

We hope to see you in the social media world soon!

Seeking Church Parsonages


Available church parsonages within ~20 miles of Hurricane Sandy-impacted areas (especially in Monmouth or Ocean Counties) for our temporary housing program! Families affected by Hurricane Sandy need a place to stay temporarily while their homes are being finished. If you would like more information please reach out to Amy Pennenga at apennenga@lsmnj.org or 609-699-4137.


Free Congregational Resources Available

Looking for ways to prepare your congregation for disaster?  Need materials as you recover from disaster or serve on a work team?  Contact Pastor Becky Resch at the NJ Synod office at bresch@njsynod.org prior to Oct. 15th to learn more and to receive free congregational resources.
Disaster Planning Resources for Congregations— “A Ready Hope: Effective Disaster Ministry for Congregations” can be sent to you from the NJ Synod.  A free downloadable “Congregational Disaster Preparedness Guide” can be downloaded from the ELCA website.  Click here and then go to the “general” tab.
Guides for Volunteers— A devotion guide for volunteers “Meeting God in the Ruins” is Meeting God in the Ruinsavailable for free from the ELCA.   Book copies are available through the NJ Synod.  A downloadable is available here.   World Hunger Field GuideA guide developed by ELCA world hunger for global service, might also be helpful.  “Digging in: A Leader’s Guide to Service Learning” can be found for free download here.

Resources for Survivors—  “New Every Day” is a devotion book New Every Day Forty Devotionsfor survivors.  Hundreds of these resources have been distributed by the NJ synod since Sandy.  Another free resource from the ELCA, contact the NJ synod if you would like one for yourself or several for your congregation.

Disaster Distress Hotline

For many people, coping with the Long-Term effects of Hurricane Sandy continues to be a complex and challenging process.  You are not alone!  Call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” (for English) or “Hablanos” (para Espanol) to 66746.  This is a service of the Mental Health Association of NJ and professionals are available to listen and connect you with resources.  Click here to learn more about the Disaster Distress Hotline.

Sandy Recovery: Linking Lutherans from Across the Country

Youth continue Sandy recoveryJust days ago, “Living Lutheran” published an article about the Nebraska Synod Youth summer servant trip.  The 300+ youth and adults came to NJ to work on recovery in August of 2014.

“Joining with other Lutherans engaged in disaster recovery work is a helpful reminder for youth, and adults who work with them, that recovery is a long term process– we are a church that is committed to being present until the work is complete.”  To read more go to: http://www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Stories/2014/09/140917-Youth-continue-Sandy-recovery

When Disaster Strikes: Free webinar Sept. 23

When Disaster Strikes:  Free webinar Sept. 23 helps congregations, other community organizations prepare

How prepared is your congregation or organization to respond effectively and with confidence when disaster strikes, whether it’s following a devastating tornado like Joplin, Mo.; a school shooting like Newtown, Conn.; a superstorm like Katrina or Sandy, or an individual member’s house fire?

September is National Preparedness Month, and this free, one-hour webinar – Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, from 2-3 p.m. (U.S. Eastern) – will help equip you with practical ways your congregation or organization can prepare for disaster – and get ready to help your community recover, too!

Space is limited, so please register early!  Go to https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/563387946  Don’t miss this special opportunity to learn from the coeditors of the valuable new “how-to” guide “Help and Hope: Disaster Preparedness and Response Tools for Congregations.”

For more information about the book, visit www.cwsglobal.org/helpandhopebook.

Amy Gopp, Director of Member Relations and Pastoral Care at Church World Service, and Brandon Gilvin, Associate Director of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)’s Week of Compassion, will share lessons from real-life experience to help congregations and other community organizations to expect the unexpected and respond in ways that help and not hinder survivors’ relief and recovery.

Topics to be covered include:

– “Systems and Supplies: Some Lists and Tasks for Preparing Your Congregation for a Disaster”

– “Knowing When to Stay and When to Go: A Guide to Volunteering”

– “The Long-Term Recovery Process and Your Faith Community”

– “The Importance of Spiritual and Emotional Care”

The webinar will include ample time for questions and answers.

Local Partners Unite in Rebuilding


afwh long branch home

Pictured from left to right:  American Red Cross President for Humanitarian Services Cliff Holtz, American Red Cross Divisional Vice President Don Herring, United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey Bishop John Schol, Director of Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group Eric Nedelkoff, Long Branch Council Member Joy Bastelli, Long Branch Covenant Church Pastor Tony Moss, Communication Director of Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund Eileen Lofrese, Lutheran Reformation Church Reverend Matt Cimorelli, Episcopal Dioceses of NJ and Newark Disaster Coordinator Keith Adams, Lutheran Social Ministries of NJ Disaster Relief Coordinator Amy Pennenga, Lutheran Reformation Church Sandy Relief Coordinator Debbie Keszler, A Future With Hope Director Bobbie Ridgely, American Red Cross CEO of the South Jersey Region Nancy Orlando.

LONG BRANCH, NJ – It takes cooperation and partnership with all level of non-profit, government and community organizations to make a full recovery from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.  A perfect example of this partnership is the recovery team that has helped April and Russell Woods rebuild their home in Long Branch.  The Woods’ home was one of thousands damaged or destroyed during Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012.

A Future With Hope, American Red Cross, United Methodist Committee on Relief, the First Lady’s Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, Robin Hood Foundation, Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group, Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey and Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and Newark in cooperation with Long Branch and state government all contributed in the complete rebuilding of the Woods’ home.  On Thursday, August 21, representatives from these organizations joined to draw attention to the effectiveness of these partnerships in recovery.

“When it comes to helping people recover, especially after such a devastating storm as Sandy, partnership is essential,” said Bishop John Schol of the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey. “We feel it’s a part of our mission to serve people at all times, but it’s especially important in times of such dire need. We look forward to continuing this mission with A Future With Hope.”

Russell Woods didn’t have much hope during the night of the storm and in the days and weeks after. He abandoned his home the night Sandy hit shore when the water was about chest-high.  After the storm he learned the flood waters had compromised the house’s foundation and that the house would have to be completely rebuilt.

“The storm was just devastating,” Russell Woods said. “Then to have to go through the process of trying to get our house rebuilt was also exhausting. I don’t know what we would have done without the help of everyone involved.”

While insurance did cover some of the cost, we couldn’t rebuild without help.”

“This is the kind of thing that can happen when everyone works together to help others,” Schol said. “To see a home rebuilt from the ground up, reminds us that anything is possible when we combine our resources.”

The American Red Cross has played a significant role in the on-going recovery from Sandy by supporting many recovery and rebuilding organizations.  It donated $1.5 million to A Future With Hope to directly help those hit hardest by the storm.

“We have a long history of being there to help people recover from disasters,” said American Red Cross President for Humanitarian Services Cliff Holtz. “There was and still is significant need for those affected by Sandy and we are more than pleased to be a part of the coordinated effort by A Future With Hope and others to help continue the rebuilding process for the entire Jersey Shore area.”

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund chaired by New Jersey’s First Lady Mary Pat Christie is also a significant partner with A Future With Hope and provided a grant of $750,000 to help rebuild 50 Sandy impacted homes.  The Woods’ house is one of the projects they are helping to fund.  “Recovery takes years.  We are glad to partner with organizations like A Future With Hope who will be here for the long term to help people, like Russell and April get back into their homes,” said Mary Pat Christie, Chair of the Fund.  To date, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has provide $33.8 million in grants to more than 100 organizations who are on ground restoring lives, rebuilding homes and aiding communities.

Volunteers from the Brooklawn United Methodist Church are working on the home this week and it is estimated the home will be complete by October, 2 years after the storm.

About A Future With Hope:

A Future With Hope is a nonprofit organization started by the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey to lead relief and recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy.  Volunteers come from all over the United States to rebuild homes.  The organization’s goal is to use 20,000 volunteers to help rebuild 300 to 500 homes and provide case management to affected families.

Through the end of July, A Future With Hope has rebuilt more than 69 homes and they will have more than 100 homes rebuilt by the end of 2014.  Volunteers have completed work in 21 different communities including Atlantic City, Brick, Forked River, Highlands, Keansburg, Little Egg Harbor, Manahawkin, Ocean Gate, Union Beach and others.  A Future With Hope has 15 host sites that can house 350 volunteers from out of state each week.  To date, it has hosted more than 7,500 volunteers from 38 states.  For more information please visit afuturewithhope.org.

From:  http://www.ahherald.com/newsbrief/monmouth-news/18147-organizations-unite-to-rebuild-long-branch-home

Lutheran Disaster Response Publishes New Guide for Congregations

Congregational Disaster Preparedness Guide

Are you or your congregation prepared if a disaster strikes within your community? This Congregational Disaster Preparedness Guide will walk you through, step-by-step, to create a comprehensive plan in case of a disaster and help equip your church to respond after a disaster strikes. Created by Lutheran Disaster Response, the intent of this resource is to help your congregation take basic and important steps to serve their communities. Download this free resource at www.ELCA.org/disaster/resources.