Nonprofits Serving Together

After seeing the tornado damage on the news and hearing how so many nonprofits are working together to serve the people impacted, I had to do something.  I wanted to help and to see for myself how things were going.  So on Monday I went to Shawnee, OK with a group of volunteers from Guts Church (my home church).  We coordinated with a local congregation who assigned a few homes to us, then split up into teams and got to work.

pulling together in the same direction

When we arrived at our assigned location, Samaritan’s Purse was already on-site putting on a tarp where the roof once was to keep the rain out until it could be replaced.  We started cutting down damaged trees, removing debris, and rebuilding fence.  Volunteers from a few other churches joined us with additional chainsaws and volunteers, plus another local church grilled lunch for the families and volunteers in the area.  By the time we left, the tarp was in-place, downed trees and debris were mostly cleared, and the homeowner was deeply touched.

From what I’m hearing about the work going on in Moore, my experience in Shawnee is a good indicator of how nonprofits are coordinating to serve the area.  This made me wonder: What would happen if we had this level of coordination all the time?  It’s great to come together when disaster strikes to serve those affected.  However, smaller “disasters” happen to people year-round.  A spouse leaves and files for divorce, a layoff notice is received, parents find out about their teenager’s drug use, a single mom’s car breaks down – again.  There are nonprofits who can and do help in these situations and I don’t want to diminish the impact they have in our communities.  However, there are times when the nonprofit that first learns about a need doesn’t have the necessary skills or resources to fill it.  In those instances, it would make filling those needs much easier if we already had great relationships established with nonprofits in the area that could help.

Hopefully, the coordination that is happening in Moore will establish great relationships in the community that will last well beyond the rebuilding process.  This doesn’t require a bunch of bureaucracy or administration.  What it does require is taking the time to build relationships with other organizations in your area and offering to help each other as needed.

Does your church coordinate with other churches or nonprofits?  If so, how?  Also, what are the benefits and/or challenges involved?