UMCOR grant targets 9-11 victims in Virginia
1/23/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
United Methodist News ServiceSome
of the hidden victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks can be
found along the Route One Corridor just south of Washington.
were the minimum-wage earners who cleaned the motel rooms, served food
in the restaurants, worked in the shops catering to tourists at Mount
Vernon and other attractions or drove taxis to nearby Reagan National
Airport. After the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in
New York, the airport closed for an extended period, re-opening on a
limited basis, and the tourist trade dropped dramatically, taking jobs
Rising Hope United Methodist Church, established in 1996
specifically to bring "spiritual and material relief" to the needy
along the Route One Corridor, has offered help to those secondary
victims. About 60 percent of its current 90 members are homeless or have
been homeless at some point.
"Almost immediately, we knew that
this (Sept. 11) was going to have an effect, particularly on the
community we serve," the Rev. Keary Kincannon, told United Methodist
News Service. What they didn't realize until later, he said, was how the
attack on the Pentagon would contribute to a broader economic downturn.
"There are still people coming in who relate to us that they haven't
been able to find work since 9-11."
With financial assistance
from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Rising Hope and other
churches and programs in Northern Virginia can continue to respond to
those seeking help.
On Jan. 4, the United Methodist Church in
Northern Virginia formally announced that it was receiving nearly $1
million from UMCOR's "Love in the Midst of Tragedy" fund, set up as a
way for church members to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks. UMCOR's board
of directors had approved the grant in October.
The Rev. Abi
Foerster of the church's Alexandria District, and the Rev. Herb
Brynildson, Arlington District, wrote the grant application. The two
districts serve 104 churches in Northern Virginia and a regional
population of almost 2 million people.
Coordinating with the
interfaith office of the Fairfax County government, "we worked together
in trying to bring all the necessary parties to the table," Foerster
explained. The county was instrumental in assisting with statistics and
documentation for the grant, she added.
It was not hard to find
secondary victims among the service industry workers of the Route One
Corridor. "Eighty percent of the businesses in our area are small
businesses," Foerster said. "Most of the folks either lost their jobs
â€¦ or had a serious cut in hours."
In addition, many of the workers were immigrants who "were experiencing a fair amount of discrimination and bias."
organizations will receive funding from the grant, to be allocated over
a three-year period. The largest amount, $383,400, goes to Grace
Ministries, a community outreach program of the church's Arlington
District aimed at the Hispanic community. Its focus will be on monthly
food and clothing distribution, rent assistance, job training and
re-training, worship in Spanish and pastoral counseling.
second largest allocation, $251,562, is to Rising Hope, where Laura
Derby, church administrator and grant writer, noted that the number of
homeless along the Route One Corridor - many living in the woods or in
their cars - has jumped by 25 percent in the past four years.
9-11, that's gotten even worse," she said. The number of families
coming in each week for food and clothing has increased significantly in
the past few months, she added.
At the same time, Rising Hope
has experienced a drastic reduction in food contributions. The UMCOR
money will allow the church to purchase food when necessary, as well as
hire a part-time employee to investigate and coordinate donations from
food banks and other donors and recruit volunteers.
will allow Rising Hope to deal with specific client needs, Derby said,
such as getting someone into the mental health system or into job
training, providing needed transportation or paying for a utility bill
or month's rent.
Another result of the Sept. 11 aftermath, the
growing need for legal assistance to immigrants, is being addressed
through the Northern Virginia Board of Missions/Immigration and Legal
Services Task Force, a joint effort of the Arlington and Alexandria
districts. Its grant of $162,000 will be used to provide legal
counseling and representation through the Just Neighbors Ministry
A comprehensive post-Sept. 11 survey of immigrants along
Route One showed a need for additional English-as-a-second-language
classes. ESL & Immigrant Ministries, a program that provides English
classes to low-income immigrants, will receive $94,230 for its work.
Currently, the program has more than 300 volunteers teaching classes at
19 United Methodist churches in Northern Virginia.
organizations also benefit from the UMCOR grant. B-District Hispanic
Ministries, a subgroup of the Virginia Annual Conference Hispanic Task
Force, will use its $48,600 allocation to provide food, medical and rent
assistance to Hispanic immigrants in need. Route One Neighborhood
Shalom Organization/Phoenix Rising will receive $33,400 for its weekend
Foerster also works with Phoenix Rising, which was
created in 2001 to address the lack of food services on weekends, when
traditional community kitchens and food programs are closed. Three
months after the organization's volunteers began delivering nutritious
bagged meals to homeless people living along Route One, the Sept. 11
attacks occurred. Soon after, she said, the number of deliveries jumped
from 50 to 120, and recipients also began asking for assistance in other
UMCOR money will be used to purchase food to help
supplement current donations to Phoenix Rising, to provide indigent
families with printed materials about the county's social services and
to offer opportunities for one-on-one case management support.
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