Quotations above came from homeowners in the U.S. Gulf Coast who experienced the presence and help of thousands of volunteers who served in mission following the 2005 hurricanes.
Volunteers respond to U.S. Disasters
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast; Hurricane Rita struck it again one month later. A major effort by PDA was working with the affected presbyteries and local communities in Mississippi and Louisiana to help families recover - through a ministry of hospitality that encouraged broad participation by volunteer teams through Presbyterian Volunteer Villages.
Presbyterian Volunteer Villages were created in response to the overwhelming desire by Presbyterians to be present and to share Christ’s healing love with people whose homes and lives had been destroyed by the hurricanes. The original Presbyterian Volunteer Villages consisted of blue and white PODs (tent-like structures) in Mississippi and Louisiana (and later in Texas following Hurricane Ike in 2008) that provided a predictable, safe, and sanitary environment where volunteer groups could live in community as they served others.
Coming Home: Hurricane Katrina Five Years Later tells the story of how hurricane survivors and volunteers helping to rebuild have touched each other’s lives. Watch a trailer of the video and order a free DVD (as seen on NBC) to share with your work team or congregation. Celebrate the difference Presbyterians have made.
More than 50,000 volunteer missions cycled through the original Presbyterian Volunteer Villages, donating a labor of love and restored lives and hope to families. Each volunteer who stayed in a Presbyterian Volunteer Village received a blue t-shirt. The front of the shirt had the PDA logo, and the back had the PDA tagline “Out of chaos, Hope”. The blue t-shirts became a visual of Christianity in action as hundreds of homeowners began to realize that people wearing those shirts freely offered themselves as servants to help meet whatever need was identified.
The look of Presbyterian Volunteer Villages has changed; instead of the blue and white PODs, most volunteers now stay with Presbyterian churches in multipurpose rooms or other available space. What has not changed is the mission of Presbyterians answering the call to bear the witness of Christ’s love to families left in need following a natural disaster within the United States — and thousands of volunteers wearing their blue t-shirts, bearing the message that there is hope out of the chaos of disaster.
Won’t you become one of those volunteers? Numerous opportunities are available for work teams. Visit the PDA website to see where you can serve, or call the PDA Call Center at (866) 732-6121.