SVDP Memphis

Katrina Aid Today

August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, destroying lives, leveling homes and leaving thousands of survivors with the same story: We lost everything. One year later, many still coped with Katrina's devastation. Some had moved forward, but for others recovery was at a standstill.

The response by UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) to Hurricane Katrina's unimaginable devastation was both swift and comprehensive. The organization immediately released more than a quarter of a million dollars in funds to support annual conferences, national mission institutions, and additional staff in their response efforts. Storm Centers in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi were established to be conduits for long-term response. These centers coordinated relief efforts throughout their regions. This included coordinating relief supplies, volunteers, and other resources as needed.

A 50 million dollar grant from UMCOR was made available to fund long term recovery for survivors in 10 different cities to which they had evacuated.  Memphis, Tennessee was one of those cities.

During the year and a half Katrina Aid Today was open in Memphis, Tennessee, it underwent many transitions especially in regards to staff. One staff member provided leadership as a Case Manager for Katrina Aid throughout the entire grant. She went from being a Case Manager for the first four months to being the Case Manager Supervisor for the remainder of the grant. However, the team ended with four effective Case Managers who worked well as a team. The Case Managers were also blessed to have been working in a very successful program.

About three hundred sixty families were served during the grant period.  They accomplished things like:

  • Started a clothing closet for Katrina evacuees
  • Developed long lasting relationships with local agencies and businesses
  • Provided volunteer hours for local students and citizens
  • Designed and Implemented a Christmas program which involved Katrina

We would like to think that this is the last disaster to affect people, but we know it won't be.  The Society of St. Vincent dePaul stands ready to help in just these types of emergencies.

 

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The Society

The primary focus of The Society since 1865 has been the assistance of individuals that call for help. That help may include assistance with utility bills, food baskets, rent or mortgage assistance.  It could also include help paying medical bills and whatever else the person may need to get back on their feet.

In Brief

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul first arrived in Memphis in 1865. The first conference (or group of volunteers) gathered at St. Peter and Paul parish in downtown Memphis. Since then the Society has grown to ten conferences, with hundreds of Vincentians, as the members are called. That number does not include the scores of volunteers that work at the food mission.