Rebuilding help possible

Published 1:08 am Wednesday, December 1, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
Atmore could receive a shot in the arm in its recovery efforts from a Michigan-based group.
Representatives from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee met with Atmore church leaders Monday to discuss what they could do for the area.
What the CRWRC is offering is a long-term rebuilding program where it provided trained volunteers to first canvas the area for needs and it provides rebuilding help.
Teams of trained construction workers and laborers would come to Atmore and work under the direction of local directors rebuilding and repairing the homes, primarily of low-income households with little to no insurance.
Ellis Wykstra, of the CRWRC, has been to Brewton and Flomaton as well as Atmore. Wykstra said the need in Atmore is clear. "If you drive through this community, you see there's tremendous need here," Wykstra said.
Wykstra said his organization doesn't just come in and start working, however. The group must be asked to come into the community by an interfaith, non-profit organization.
Listening at the meeting were Doug Newton, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Father Jan Zagorski, Rev. Mike Grindle and other church leaders and board members of the Atmre Area Christian Care Ministry.
Newton called the meeting with Wykstra.
If the group comes to Atmore, the first stage would be sending trained interviewers door-to-door in the community to identify the needs of the area, Wykstra said. After that, trained workers would begin the process of repairing and rebuilding homes, a process that could take up to a year or more.
Wykstra said the difference between his group and others, is that the organization takes a long-term view and is able to complete rebuilding projects that other groups might not be able to finish when they are only able to work for a weekend or so.
"When we rotate our volunteers out, the managers stay on to get the next crew up to speed on the ongoing projects," Wykstra said.
The labor would be free, but the volunteers would need more than a cot to sleep on during their time in the area, Wykstra said.
Money for construction supplies would also have to come locally, either by donations from the nation church denominations, grants or other sources. What goes into the fundraising, Wykstra said, would have to be provided locally.
Newton said the Atmore Area Christian Care Ministry, a program several area churches already participate in, could serve as that requesting and organizing body, but the group would need help.
Newton and other clergy members plan to meet and gather more information and develop more support from more churches in the area and meet with Wykstra again in the near future.

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