Iliff Graduates Help Lead Colorado Wildfire Recovery
July 30, 2012
ILIFF GRADUATES HELP LEAD COLORADO WILDFIRE RECOVERY
(DENVER) — Graduates of the Iliff School of Theology’s (Iliff) Master of Divinity (MDIV) program are providing guidance and leadership in long-term disaster recovery efforts to survivors of recent Colorado wildfires.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employs Jon R. Wallace (MDIV, 2012), Voluntary Agencies Liaison, Margaret “Maggie” Roe (MDIV, 1999), resilience support coordinator / voluntary agency liaison – FEMA; and Rev. Nancy Boswell (MDIV, 2000), senior pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Fort Collins, Colo. All three are involved in helping coordinate the important work of disaster recovery – repairing lives and livelihoods.
With Colorado’s major wildfires now fully contained, Wallace, Roe and Boswell are helping ensure a collaborative and broad-scale approach to aid those directly impacted by the fires, from supporting disaster relief workers to the survivors in need of disaster assistance.
“Our work is about people,” said Wallace in a recent interview. “Coordinating and organizing the appropriate teams is critical work in disaster relief management. Assembling the right people, deploying them, and helping to support our personnel — often concurrently — is paramount to success in all phases of disaster response and recovery.”
In addition to coordinating voluntary and faith-based organizations in disaster response and recovery, Wallace has worked with FEMA management to help broadened the scope of FEMA’s support to its personnel by developing an internally-focused program to enhance workforce resilience. Roe was hired as one of the staff for this new initiative.
“I’m pioneering a truly unique effort within FEMA,” Roe said. “I’m working with our personnel and operational leadership to support and companion our staff through difficult times including those that occur while they are away from home for extended periods or faced with unexpected losses such as the death of a co-worker.”
An ordained United Methodist Minister Elder and former hospice chaplain, Roe brings to her position years of professional experience. Considered a reservist, when deployed, her reach includes 10 FEMA Regions and the territories served by the federal agency. She is assigned to Colorado’s El Paso County working with voluntary and faith-based organizations in setting up long term recovery groups.
By its nature, Roe’s work is highly sensitive as she engages disaster relief professionals in ways that sometimes blends work-life with personal-life. “In the simplest terms, I am an active listener supporting people in journeys from victim to survivor,” Roe said. “Disaster response work involves a host of issues for people and together we address them because self-care is critical for people who are helping others.”
Says Wallace: “Recovery from disaster is always first a local and state issue but may broaden in larger or more destructive occurrences to include the necessity of assistance from the federal government.” He added. “Recovery then becomes a partnership across the spectrum from local, state, and federal government resources working with those of the non-profit, voluntary, private, and faith-based organizations which exist in every community.”
Boswell’s Christ United Methodist Church hosts community-based meetings supporting the High Park Fire disaster relief efforts. Attending those meetings are members of national voluntary organizations active in disaster whose mission is to develop and provide a framework for enhancing coordination, pooling expertise and strengthening response capacities throughout the community. Individual volunteers, interfaith community organizations, relief organizations such as American Red Cross, Adventist Community Services, United Methodist Committee on Relief, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse and many others are teamed on issues of communication, coordination, collaboration and cooperation serving High Park Fire survivors and residents of Larimer County, Colo.
At the heart of the High Park disaster’s recovery efforts is the High Park Fire Distribution Center operated by the Adventist Disaster Response Agency. Erected nearly overnight in a 75,000-sq. ft. building owned by the Foothills Mall, the Center is a single-destination repository of resources ranging from daily personal and household items to emergency assistance, spiritual care, and professional services to meet the needs of Larimer County residents impacted by the fire.
With recovery in its earliest phases, support for relief workers and survivors remains critical. Financial contributions can be made through local chapters of national support organizations such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief and by participating in local drives and volunteering. Visit HelpColoradoNow.org to learn more about opportunities to participate in community recovery efforts.
The Iliff School of Theology is a graduate theological school related to the United Methodist Church, serving more than 38 different faith traditions. Founded in 1892, the school provides several degree programs, including a Joint Ph.D. Program with the University of Denver.