BY EMILY MISNER
The ripple effect of disaster response is incredible. In 2017, ARDF partnered with the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast to assist victims of Hurricane Harvey. Deacon Shelly Sorem was asked to be part of a discernment team to help disperse these funds. She says, “that little saying YES changed my life.”
After Hurricane Harvey, people who had lost everything were living in hotels across Houston. Deacon Shelly and her Daughters of the Holy Cross Chapter reached out to see if anyone needed help. They connected with three single moms and took them shopping for groceries and toiletries.
“funds from ARDF go way beyond just giving someone a meal or just giving someone a Bible – the ripple effect is incredible.”
Even before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, one of these moms, Brittany, was struggling to get by. Her mental health problems were exacerbated by the trauma of natural disaster. ARDF provided funds to get her the mental help and medications she needed. However, Brittany ended up in prison, due to a crime she had previously committed. When Deacon Shelly visited her, Brittany showed them the Bible she was now reading to the other women in her pod. Shelley was amazed to see that “funds from ARDF go way beyond just giving someone a meal or just giving someone a Bible – the ripple effect is incredible.” Christ’s transforming love was still working. Today, five years later, Brittany is clean, sober, and has completed FEMA disaster response training so she can help women struggling through similar experiences.
A ministry of presence to those who are grieving and struggling is one of the most important ways the Church can show how much they care. Deacon Shelly says, “ARDF provided the funds so that we can sit in the mess, and we can walk through the mess. That’s what you do in the body of Christ – we walk together through the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
ARDF is excited to have Deacon Shelly serving on ARDF’s National Disaster Response Task Force. It is our prayer that this Task Force can help equip and mobilize more churches to reach out to those in need after disaster strikes, showing the love of Christ in powerful ways which continue to ripple outward.
If you are interested in learning more about or donating to ARDF’s disaster response efforts, visit ardf.org/relief or email our National Disaster Response Network Director, email@example.com.