Our first Humanist Disaster Recovery Team deployment is live


unnamed (3)Our Humanist Disaster Recovery Team is currently on its first deployment to an area of South Carolina ravaged by flooding from Hurricane Joaquin. The group has trained, demolished the interior of a home, performed mold remediation, and will soon begin the work of putting the structure back together.

The group is led by Foundation Beyond Belief's own Rebecca Vitsmun, who you may remember, lost her home in the Moore, Oklahoma tornado in 2013. It was that loss, and the traumatic clean up afterward, that led her to want to create a disaster recovery program for humanists that was specifically non-proselytizing. Since then, we have worked together to create Humanist Disaster Recovery (HDR) Teams, a program of Foundation Beyond Belief.

unnamed (1)The deployment is going very well. According to Vitsmun, "Over the course of the last 4 days, I've really seen the team blossom. Everyone has been contributing–not just their time, energy, and effort–but they’ve also been incredibly involved in shaping the future of HDR Teams. Every volunteer has the true heart of a humanist; they look out for one another and support each other. Our site managers love us. One told us it must just be the kind of group that we are because we all work so hard and she could tell that we care because of how much effort we put into getting everything done right." FBB Executive Director Noelle George will also be volunteering in South Carolina. She arrived at the site today. 

Putting the HDR Teams together was not done quickly, but with careful consideration of every facet of the operation.  As Vitsmun explains, "[The] HDR Teams [program] is built upon a solid foundation, due to the expertise of Samantha Montano. We were created to keep the focus on the survivor and to help those who need it the most. It was in meeting the homeowners here that we can really see the difference we are making by placing our focus on disaster recovery instead of working within the response phase.

unnamedThese are the individuals who have fallen through the cracks. They do not have insurance or means to rebuild their lives. If not for volunteers, they would never be able to fully recover. We are truly rebuilding the lives of the families here and it is hard not to tear up when I think about how glad I am that we are here. I'm already ready for the next deployment. It's hard work. We are sweating. My body is aching and bruised, and I wouldn't change a thing. If they told me I was put back on demolition tomorrow (back-breaking hard labor), I'd do it with a smile, happy to have the opportunity in life to help my fellow human." 

The number of deployments we are able to do is directly tied to the success of our fundraising. We are thrilled this initial deployment has gone so well and we look forward to doing more, but that can only happen with the help of our donors. This work is important. As Rebecca remarked, "[One homeowner] said she didn't even realize that there were people in the world who would really volunteer like that and she was so grateful." HDR Teams are one of the many ways that FBB helps humanists put their values to work.

Our fundraising campaign continues through January 15, 2016. If you would like to ensure the success of the HDR Teams and contribute to future deployments, please visit https://givingtuesday.razoo.com/us/story/Humanistscare2015

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