By Illinois and Missouri Relief Teams, USA (Originally in English)
In the last week of 2015, rare winter storms and torrential rain caused severe flooding of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, in the Midwest region of the United States. Missouri state was the most affected, where the floods displaced thousands of people, claimed 25 lives, inundated homes and businesses and disrupted traffic flow on roads and highways.
To support our local Association members’ relief work, Supreme Master Ching Hai lovingly provided a total fund of US$28,000. Our Association members from seven different states contributed an additional US$12,830 to the fund. As Master has instructed us to help those in need, from December 30, 2015 to January 15, 2016, our relief teams formed by Missouri and Illinois Centers made several trips to the flood-damaged areas in Missouri and Illinois, distributing financial assistance and supplies to affected individuals and families.
Visiting Flood-Affected Victims Staying in Red Cross Shelters in Illinois and Missouri – December 31, 2015 to January 2, 2016
From December 31, 2015, to January 2, 2016, our Missouri and Illinois relief teams worked together, visiting nearby flood-afflicted areas and a total of seven Red Cross shelters where displaced families were staying.
In Granite City, Illinois, we met an elderly woman staying at a Red Cross Shelter with her family, who was in need of shoes and clothes. We took her to the nearby store to purchase these items, and also gave her and her family cash assistance so that they could buy necessities and Christmas gifts for their children.
In Valley Park, Missouri, we drove around and distributed cash assistance to families whose homes were damaged by flooding.
In Pacific, Missouri, at a mobile home park, we met an elderly couple and their daughter who had lost everything to the flood. Their home was not insured. They cried after receiving the cash assistance. The Pacific Presbyterian Church was providing aid to local victims, and expressed the need for cleaning supplies, which we then purchased for them. They also kindly helped us distribute envelopes containing cash, and flyers about vegetarian and vegan elite.
Visiting South Central Missouri and Flood-Damaged Mobile Home Parks in Arnold and Fenton – January 3, 2016
On January 3, our relief team separated and went to different areas in Missouri to continue the relief work.
Our Missouri team went to the south central portion of the state, visiting Springfield, Branson, Rockaway Beach and Ozark where, in addition to giving cash to the affected families, we also made a US$500 contribution to the Springfield Animal Shelter and US$300 to the Castaway Animal Rescue Effort (CARE) shelter in Ozark.
Our Illinois team visited several flood-damaged mobile home parks in Arnold and Fenton, Missouri, where many residences were not insured. Some people had to abandon their houses, as the floodwaters had risen to the ceilings. The team talked to the affected people hoping to provide some comfort, and gave envelopes with cash in them as tokens of support. Receiving Master’s loving gifts, many people shed tears.
Four days later, our Illinois team returned to a mobile home park in Fenton and obtained a list of the most-affected residents, which they shared with the Missouri team. The Missouri team called everyone on the list to inquire about any needs, and delivered cash assistance accordingly.
Participating in the Multi-Agency Resource Center Event – January 8 to 15, 2016
From January 8 to 15, our Missouri relief team, joined by our Association members from Georgia and Florida, participated in the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) event. It was organized by Catholic Charities of Missouri and the American Red Cross to support people in need of assistance.
We gave out cash donations of US$20 each, in some cases up to US$100, to approximately 300 attendees. We also gave out vegan sandwiches and cookies, as well as information about climate change and the vegan diet. People were very interested in making lifestyle changes towards veganism to save the planet and to improve their health.
Many of the flood-affected attendees cried at our table, telling us about their losses, and expressed their gratitude towards Master. The week following the MARC event, our team received a letter of appreciation from Kyle Schott of Catholic Charities.
Meanwhile, more of our relief team members went door-to-door in the flood-damaged areas giving out cash assistance, usually in the amount of US$100. Where there was a special need, we gave more. One man’s father had passed away on Christmas day and three days later his home was flooded. He expressed profound gratitude to beloved Master for the financial assistance, which also went to help cover funeral expenses.
At one house, we found the resident, an elderly woman, in her car searching frantically for the keys to her house. She had just been to the doctor and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Then, on the way home, she was involved in an accident. After her house was flooded, the stress was tremendous. At that moment, our relief team showed up. Miraculously, one of the members was able to help her open the door. We stayed with her for a while, offering her cleaning and financial help, but most of all God’s love.
The recipients were genuinely touched, and asked that we convey their heartfelt gratitude to Supreme Master Ching Hai.
A part of the remaining fund was used by one of our Missouri Association members to purchase towels and toiletries, and prepare three vegan meals for the people staying at The Salvation Army in Jefferson City, Missouri in February 2016.
Throughout the relief efforts, our team members were moved by the noble quality of the people we met. Many times, even though they were suffering, they asked us to help out a neighbor who was more in need. Our deep gratitude to Master for this amazing opportunity to share God’s divine love.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Flood Relief Work in Missouri and Illinois, USA
|Cash contributions to flood-affected individuals and families||36,906.80||A|
|Cash contributions to Springfield Animal Shelter and Castaway Animal Rescue Effort in Ozark||800.00||B|
|Cleaning supplies, shoes and clothing items for flood-affected individuals||843.85||C|
|Vegan food, towels and toiletries for The Salvation Army in Jefferson City, Missouri||430.00||D|
The relief team members paid approximately US$1,870 for their own transportation, accommodations and food.