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Newsweek lists UMCOR among ?Big Names in Katrina Relief’

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The Rev. Paul Dirdak
June 30, 2006

By Michelle Scott*

NEW YORK (UMNS) — The United Methodist Committee on Relief ranked sixth for the amount raised for hurricane relief in a recent survey by Newsweek of the “Big Names in Katrina Relief.”

UMCOR raised some $64.5 million for hurricane relief and rehabilitation that will fund long-term recovery for the next three years.

This is in addition to the thousands of hours United Methodist volunteers have put into the recovery effort and the $7.6 million United Methodists and others donated in relief supplies.

“UMCOR is thankful that the capacity for giving is so great,” said the Rev. Paul Dirdak, the agency’s chief executive. UMCOR’s policy of using 100 percent of all designated funds for their intended programs ensures every dollar donated will go to hurricane recovery, he added. Other funding is used to provide for administrative costs.

UMCOR’s niche in long-term recovery is the day-to-day work of helping individuals and families restore their lives and recover what was lost in the disaster. By hiring and training local people to be case managers, or family advocates, the agency is able to accomplish this goal.

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The Rev. Tom Hazelwood

Case managers help survivors by working with them to create their own plan of recovery. These advocates then ensure that survivors receive the assistance they need to follow this plan.

“UMCOR’s response through the (denomination’s) annual conferences is much more than case management,” said Tom Hazelwood, disaster response executive for UMCOR.

“Our staff and volunteers can offer assistance such as building materials, rental assistance, and spiritual and emotional care because of the generous financial backing of United Methodists,” he explained.

UMCOR is working in partnership with five annual conferences to assist the most vulnerable hurricane survivors for years to come.

Coordinating work with annual conferences and local organizations ensures that the agency’s relief and rehabilitation programs are not duplicating the efforts of other organizations and ensures that the particular needs of a given community are met, he said.

*Scott is an UMCOR staff member in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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