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Going the Extra Mile with UMCOR

In college I ran cross-country, but I also ran marathons. Sometimes, after cross-country practice had ended, I would add on a few extra miles to build endurance. It was hard work, but necessary to achieve my goals. 

Today, I am privileged to work for UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. UMCOR is the humanitarian arm of Global Ministries and the United Methodist Church; an organization that goes the extra mile to alleviate suffering without regard to race or creed. In response to disasters globally, UMCOR coaches local and international organizations as they develop proposals in the best ways possible.

After Hurricane Matthew, I had the opportunity to travel with the UMCOR Haiti team to the southwestern most tip of Haiti, to the town of Port Salut. As we drove through the town, it was clear that there were nice homes and hotels, which had been badly damaged, but the greater need lay further ahead. We turned off the road onto a rocky path that soon became a series of ruts. At several points, the four-wheel drive vehicles we were in had to make several attempts to clear mud and ruts. Up and up we went, crossing through streams and still going higher. At each cluster of homes – or what used to be homes – we visited with beneficiaries, selected through a series of three visits by the team after first learning from mayors, and other relief workers of the extreme need of this area.

Most of the families we visited were sleeping in hastily constructed structures made of branches, palm fronds, some salvaged bits of wood and tin, and maybe a tarpaulin. These primitive patchwork structures where all these people had to keep them from the relentless rain, weeks after the hurricane had done its damage. In front of these huts were piles of rubble, their former homes.

In one weekend, UMCOR Haiti had extended relief to 500 people, providing them with food, cooking kits, tarpaulins, and other necessary supplies. The process of distribution took three days.

The young staffs of UMCOR Haiti are energetic and dedicated. Having worked for several years on development projects that arose out of the needs demonstrated after the earthquake of 2010, and having completed, they are excited about being ready to provide humanitarian assistance. "God has made us ready to stand and deliver," as Azim Akhtar likes to put it. And deliver they do. The UMCOR Haiti team goes the extra mile – or more – to alleviate suffering.

It is an honor to serve with people who go the extra mile. 

Jack Amick, assistant General Secretary for UMCOR's International Disaster Response, with the General Board of Global Ministries.

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God's love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR's "costs of doing business." This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.

When you give generously on UMCOR Sunday, you make a difference in the lives of people who hurt. Give now.

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