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CRWRC passes baton of National VOAD presidency

Bill Adams is the third Disaster Response Services director for CRWRC to hold top National VOAD post


"National VOAD exists today because of the consistent work of each volunteer board member in the past. It is that kind of commitment that has made National VOAD what it is today."

—Bill Adams

In turning over to Mickey Caison the presidency of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) on May 15, Bill Adams reached a milestone. Adams is the third Disaster Response Services director from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to hold the top post in National VOAD’s 40-year history.

“It is indeed remarkable how a succession of CRWRC representatives on the National VOAD board have contributed to its success,” says Jacob Kramer, CRWRC relief team leader. “By positioning itself as a coordinating point between non-profits, volunteers, and with government agencies like FEMA, National VOAD has increased the influence of faith-based organizations, making their contributions significant, and relevant to communities and society.”

Past National VOAD board presidents from CRWRC include Neil Molenaar and Mike Bruinooge, who led the organization at various times in previous years. Each CRWRC employee appreciated the contributions they were able to make to the National VOAD coalition. Adams says that “National VOAD exists today because of the consistent work of each volunteer board member in the past. It is that kind of commitment that has made National VOAD what it is today.”

CRWRC was one of the seven founding members of National VOAD after Hurricane Camille’s 200 mph winds and torrential rains devastated coastal Mississippi from Gulfport to Bay St. Louis in 1969. In responding to the devastating disaster, the organizations realized that that they could multiply the effects of their efforts with better coordination and communication through collaboration and cooperation. That’s how National VOAD was created.

Adams also says that in recent years, “Hurricane Katrina has caused a significant shift in disaster response in the U.S.I felt I could contribute to the development of stronger relationships between National VOAD, FEMA, and the U.S. Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. In 2005, Katrina made clear the reasons that National VOAD was organized in the first place, and its work became all the more important.”

Today, National VOAD is a leader and voice for nonprofit organizations that work in all phases of disaster relief in the U.S.--preparation, response, and recovery. Growing from seven founding members to 50 national members ranging from the American Red Cross to the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, National VOAD now also includes representatives in 55 states and territories, hundreds of local representatives, and emergency management and private sector partners. Adams says that CRWRC’s membership in National VOAD has benefited CRWRC and other member organizations through collaborative networks and partnerships with government response agencies. In 2009, the 50 National VOAD member organizations adopted a “Spiritual Care Points of Consensus” and in 2010 “Case Management and Rebuild/Repair Points of Consensus” that spell out the principles to which they commit when responding to disasters in communities around the country.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a recent FEMA press release that“Volunteer organizations are an important part of every community, which makes them equally important to the nation’s emergency management team. It’s the faith-based and non-profit groups that know their communities best, and by strengthening the partnerships between us, we can help keep the people we serve safe.”

Under Adams’s leadership, National VOAD formalized their relationship with FEMA through a Memorandum of Understanding in 2010 and there are plans for a collaborative gathering in 2011 that coincides with FEMA’s Annual Individual Assistance Conference to bring together FEMA and State Emergency Managers with National VOAD members and volunteers.

Although Adams steps down from the National VOAD presidency this month, CRWRC’s partnership in the organization will remain strong. “We’ll remain involved in NATIONAL VOAD as always,” Adams says. “National VOAD is an acknowledged national leader in integrating the efforts of non-profit voluntary agencies to enhance services to disaster survivors.”

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