Volunteers of the Liberty

Disaster Recovery AmeriCorps* VISTA Project

County LTRC repairing a roof.

Letter from the Directors
Dear Friends and Colleagues, Thank you for your support of the Disaster Recovery VISTA* (Volunteers in Service to America) Project. With your assistance, we have helped many communities recover and have initiated preparedness actions in counties all around Texas so they may be better prepared for future disasters. The Disaster Recovery VISTA Project is unique within the world of VISTA. Although disaster work is new for VISTA, it fits very well, as the majority of survivors who have continuing unmet needs are at or below the poverty level. During this project year, October 2008 – September 2009, our VISTA Members have assisted their organizations in gathering $2,706,626.90 of resources, all of which have gone to help disaster survivors, concentrating on the elderly, disabled, and families with children. Homes have been repaired, utilities re-instituted, social services provided, and lives have been restored because of the work done by these dedicated VISTA Members. They are our heroes!

Texas Conference of Churches

What’s Inside?
Description of Project What is AmeriCorps*VISTA? Map of Sites Description of Sites Timeline Stories Budget and Funders Board Members Letter from the Directors 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12

As our project grows, we are in transition, focusing much more on mitigation and preparedness against future disasters. Recovery remains very important, and should a new disaster appear, we will be there to help communities recover. But we also know that by educating community organizations on how to prevent damage and prepare for disaster, we could do so much more. After all, preparedness and mitigation against future disasters saves lives and prevents loads of misery and expense. We would be pleased to be able to report, in the future, on the savings of “avoided disasters.” We believe in the reality of that future. So we look toward the future, fortified with the hope that we can make a difference. We thank you all for your part in what has been and will be done by this wonderful group of people.

October 2008 - September 2009

Annual Report

Marianne Lawson and Bonnie Mallott Co-Directors

During the past year VISTAs and their sites have been working hard on disaster recovery and preparedness. Total Value of Assistance: $2,736,626.87 Value of Indirect Service: $2,062,084.96 Value of Direct Assistance: $674,541.91 Homes Repaired: 178 Total Volunteers Recruited: 3,400 Total Volunteer Hours: 96,909.25 Total Number of Cases: 803 Number of Closed Cases: 205 Percent of Cases Closed: 25.53%

VISTAs and their supervisors at the March 2009 Annual Meeting

VISTAs got a chance to perform direct service on National Day of Service September 11th

Benefits of Service
Segal Education Award or End of Service Stipend At the end of their term, each VISTA receives a $4,725 education award to pay off student loans or to put toward future higher education expenses. VISTAs may opt to receive a $1,500 cash stipend instead. Living Stipend Each VISTA is paid a modest living stipend biweekly during their service.

What is the TCC Disaster Recovery AmeriCorps*VISTA Project?
The Disaster Recovery Program began in the wake of the 2005 gulf-coast hurricanes. From its inception, the program has strengthened long-term recovery organizations by increasing their capacities to respond to both the needs of the disaster-affected communities they serve and help those communities prepare for subsequent disasters. The Disaster Recovery Program operates under the sponsorship of the Texas Conference of Churches, the state’s largest ecumenical network. Initially, the co-founders of the Disaster Recovery Program traveled to disaster-affected communities across Texas to provide short-term consulting and assist FEMA, Church World Service, and the State of Texas representatives in setting up LongTerm Recovery Committees (LTRCs). In June 2006 the Program was awarded an AmeriCorps*VISTA

Disaster Acronyms LTRC - Long-Term Recovery
Committees are set up in communities after a disaster to help address the unmet needs of survivors. VOAD - Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster organize service providers in the community to prepare for disaster.

grant by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This funding supports the deployment of 20 VISTA Members and one VISTA Leader to work in disaster recovery organizations around the state. VISTA Members help these local organizations with developing systems and infrastructure and with identifying, mobilizing, and coordinating resources desperately needed to assist communities in the long-term recovery and preparedness process. The program recruits and deploys VISTAs in ways that are most helpful to each individual community, so sites have the option to employ VISTA Members as organizers, membership and funding developers, community developers, volunteer managers, casework supervisors, training developers, etc. The Disaster Recovery Program offers resources and networking opportunities, information about relevant resources, and technical assistance to the VISTAs and their sites that further aid in capacity building.

What is AmeriCorps*VISTA?
In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson created Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA, as part of the War on Poverty. Today VISTA is one of three national service programs under the AmeriCorps umbrella. What sets VISTA apart from other AmeriCorps service opportunities is its approach to addressing poverty. VISTAs do behind-the-scenes work to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. Since its inception, more than 140,000 Americans have served through VISTA.

Health Care Benefits VISTAs qualify for free health care benefits. Childcare Assistance VISTAs with children qualify for childcare assistance during their year of service. Student Loan Forebearance VISTAs do not have to pay on their student loans during their year of service. Federal Job Access VISTAs automatically get one year of non-competitive status for federal government jobs following their year of service.

How do VISTAs Help?
VISTA members of all ages commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency. With passion, commitment, and hard work, they strengthen organizations that serve
those most in need. The capacity building services that VISTAs provide help organizations to become more sustainable, so they can continue to serve the needs of the community long after AmeriCorps*VISTA support has ended. The VISTA program is not only designed to fight poverty with volunteers; it’s designed to benefit the volunteers as well. VISTAs get a living stipend that is equal to poverty level in their community. This allows VISTAs to experience hardship similar to that of the individuals they are helping. The VISTA program also gives members many training and networking opportunities that will better prepare them for their next steps in life.


The Project’s main office is located in Austin. The two project co-directors,


Central Texas VOAD in Austin, TX works to prepare Central Texas to respond to local


VISTA Leader, and a statewide VISTA are officed there.

disasters and to aid refugees from coastal disasters.

VISTAs at Texas Impact in Austin track legislative changes to disaster funding and

Highland Lakes Hill Country LTRC began after a flood to help residents and

work on disaster preparedness and mitigation education.
6 5 5

businesses that did not qualify for government funding. They have now become a VOAD.

El Paso LTRC began in the wake of severe flooding in late 2006. They are now in the

AidMatrix is a national nonprofit that has developed a web-based solution to help

process of becoming a VOAD.
4 1 3 2 7

get assistance from donors to disaster-affected individuals, communities, and organizations.

7 8 13 9 12

The VISTA at the Houston Food Bank who works to prepare the Food Bank and its

10 11


Independence Heights Assistance Ministries in Houston is working both to

agencies for future disasters.

help residents recover from past storms and to prepare the neighborhood for future disasters.

9 14

Houston Galveston Institute is a center for mental health. They help address the


Liberty County LTRC is currently focusing on repairing the damage to 156 elderly,

2008 - 2009 Sites Previous Sites

mental health needs of hurricane survivors.

disabled or single-parent households caused by Hurricane Ike.


Jesse Tree is a faith-based organization serving Galveston County. They became


Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development in Galveston helps residents

involved with disaster recovery after Hurricane We have had VISTAs at 21 sites, 18 of which are still operating. Originally, most of our sites were Long-Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs) aiding in community disaster recovery. We are currently shifting our focus towards preparedness. Our past sites include: Center Restoration Center, Tyler County LTRC, Jasper/Newton LTRC, Texas Interagency Interfaith Disaster Response, Southeast Texas Interfaith Organization, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and Mid Texas VOAD. Ike.

repair their homes from the damages caused by Hurricane Ike and promote preparedness.

Brazoria County LTRC works to help Brazoria County residents recover from


Faith Communities for Disaster Recovery is working to help residents affected by

damage caused by Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Dolly repair their homes and prepare for future disasters.

Hurricane Katrina struck August 29, 2005, costing 1,836 lives and $80.2 billion in damages. Hurricane Rita arrived September 23, costing 120 lives and $10 billion in damages.

Soon after the hurricanes of 2005, two Presbyterians asked the TCC to form an ecumenical disaster recovery program. TCC then began developing the program.

In July the Center Restoration Center and the Jasper/Newton LTRC joined the In June project to TCC received become our an first sites. In AmeriCorps* August the VISTA grant. Texas This grant Interagency/ allowed the Interfaith co-directors Disaster to put up to Response and 20 VISTAs in the Tyler LTRCs across County LTRC the state. also joined.

In 2007 TCC went through a revisioning. The board decided to continue to focus on peace and justice, but also focus on developing regional networks, rural church ministry, interfaith dialogue, and disaster recovery.

On the first of the year El Paso LTRC and Southeast Texas Interfaith Organization joined the TCC Project.

Mid Texas VOAD and Liberty County LTRC joined at the end of July. Southeast Texas Food Bank joined mid-August.

Highland Lakes/Hill Country LTRC joined.

Central Texas VOAD, VN TeamWork, Aidmatrix, Independence Heights Assistance Ministries, and Faith Communities for Disaster Recovery all joined in March.

July 23, Hurricane Dolly hit southern Texas causing $1.05 Billion in damages. September 13th, Hurricane Ike hit southeast Texas. It was the largest hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic Basin. It resulted in the largest evacuation of Texas in our history, 112 deaths and $32 billion in damages.

VISTA events TCC events Natural Disasters Project events

The Jesse Tree, Inc. joined December 15th and Texas Impact joined on the 22nd.

Brazoria County LTRC. Houston Food Bank, and Episcopal Diocese of Texas all joined in February.

Houston Galveston Institute was our most recent site to join.

Aug Sept 2006

Jun Jul

Aug 2007

Jul Aug

Dec 2008




Dec 2009



Texas Council of Churches started focusing A group of Protestant pastors met to form the Texas Council of Churches. on promoting peace and addressing poverty. This focus continued through 2007.

In 1963, President Kennedy spoke of a domestic volunteer program modeled after the newly established Peace Corps. In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” and signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 creating VISTA and fulfilling President Kennedy’s dream.

February 25th, 1969 the Council changed its name to the Texas Conference of Churches and established itself as an ecumenical community of Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic denominations.

In the 1970s VISTA merged with Peace Corps and the senior service programs and the ACTION agency was born. VISTA recruited trained professionals to serve.

In the 1980s the VISTA focus changed to encouraging citizen participation and community self-help.

The VISTA Literacy Corps was developed to create literacy councils and expand adult education. Onequarter of all VISTA members focused on increasing literacy rates throughout the US.

President Clinton signed the National Community Service Trust Act which developed AmeriCorps and merged the programs creating AmeriCorps*VISTA to focus on strengthening poverty-related programs.





1969 1970



1990 1993




Carolyn in Brazoria County
“In just one month I've completely changed my view on information. Now I constantly look for opportunities to learn. It's not easy changing your mindset -- learning to ask questions is difficult, but it's essential. The more I know, the greater impact I will have in Brazoria County, and that is enough to motivate me to keep studying.”
A volunteer ascends a tree at a Cleveland home to cut down limbs in preparation for the tree to be taken down.

A 93-year-old man whose home was endangered by a large tree leaning over his house after Hurricane Ike was helped by the Liberty County LTRC. They partnered with Southern Baptists Convention of Texas Disaster Relief to aid 17 residents with hazardous trees.

As part of Gail Torosian’s disaster preparedness work for the Houston Food Bank she has developed three workshops that she will facilitate for Food Bank partners on writing a disaster plan, using networking to plan for a disaster, and organizing volunteers for a disaster.

Mardie in Houston
“My six months as a VISTA have been simply outstanding. I got the warehouse together with the help of exchange students from Wisconsin. I have had the opportunity to develop several forms of distribution. I've made contacts with several organizations that will help us further our disaster work. Being a VISTA has afforded me the chance to work even more

Gail, a VISTA at the Houston Food Bank

Paul in Liberty County
“I met a mother of 8 children, the youngest a 2-year old with a half-developed brain. Her husband finds odd jobs when he can, but work has been scarce. The entire family congregated only in the few small rooms in the front portion of their home because the rest either had severe bug infestations, holes in the ceilings & floors, or mold damage. After having lived in Mexico and Morocco, I thought I had seen it all, but I was wrong. The ‘third-world’ is in our backyard, and the challenge is knowing that places such as this exist without public response. For now, a little help is on the way, but the challenge continues while waiting patiently for cases such as this to be resolved.”

Precious Treasure Bacheller, Hurricane Ike survivor.

On September 13, 2008, a retired nurse named Precious Treasure Bacheller fell victim to the ravages of Hurricane Ike. Several feet of water destroyed most everything she owned. Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief recruited volunteers who repaired and rebuilt her home.

After Hurricane Dolly swept through southern Texas, many families had to live with blue tarps on their roofs, mold on walls and other damage. Faith Communities for Disaster Recovery helped Maria Medrano and others get CDC funding to repair their homes.

closely with the community. Attending LTRC meetings has opened my eyes to the real pain that people are still feeling after Ike. It lets us know how much recovery we will still have to do. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to heal the community.”

Maria Medrano, a Hurricane Dolly survivor

Luke in Galveston
“Ms. Johnson tells us September 11 now has a completely different meaning

Patricia Flores and her Granddaughter, flood survivors.

The “rain bomb” that drenched Marble Falls in June 2007 flooded the home Patricia Flores shares with her granddaughter. The flood destroyed about 150 homes and businesses. The Highland Lakes Hill Country LTRC raised almost $100,000 and started helping.

Selena at Texas Impact is researching ways to prepare for and even prevent all kinds of disasters, from hurricanes to house fires and H1N1. Her goal is to compile this information into user-friendly
Selena presenting at Advocacy Camp

for her as that is the date she evacuated the island and left her possessions to the ravages of Hurricane Ike. ‘My car was Iked,’ she said, and as soon as she said this, I knew I would also use Ike as a verb for the rest of my life. Much friendlier than other 4-letter words, but perhaps with a much harsher meaning.”

formats to disseminate to faith communities.

Disaster Recovery Project Expenses
October 1, 2008 - September 30, 2009 VISTA Project Supervisor Salary $40,762.04 VISTA Project Supervisor Payroll Taxes $3,097.92 Project and Site Supervisor Travel (Long Distance) $9,086.11 Project and Site Supervisor Travel (Local) $543.42 Total VISTA Supervisor Expense $53,489.49 VISTA Leader Living Stipend $13,380.00 VISTA Leader End-of-Term-Stipend $1,200.00 VISTA Leader Travel + Meals $3,384.35 Total VISTA Leader Expense $17,964.35 VISTA Member Living Stipends $102,170.26 VISTA Member End-of-Term-Stipends $2,400.00 VISTA Member Travel + Meals $23,329.17 Total VISTA Member Expense $127,899.43 TCC Administrator/Bookkeeper Wages $2,060.00 Telephone: Cell Phone & Conference Calls $2,756.81 Office Supplies $490.18 Advertising & Public Relations $29.23 Parking $13.49 Total Administrative Expense $5,349.71 Total Annual Expense $204,702.98

Disaster Recovery Project Staff October 2008- September 2009
3% 26%
Marianne Lawson
Project Co-Director

Texas Conference of Churches 2009 Board of Directors
President of the Board Executive Presbyter Richard Schempp
Presbyterian Church USA, Lubbock

Mardie Page

Bonnie Mallot

Independence Heights Assitance Ministries

Pastor Melinda Veatch
Presbyterian Church USA, Fort Worth

Project Co-Director

Maria Pena



Jaclyn Remick
VISTA Leader

Independence Heights Assitance Ministries

Mrs. Pam Neumann

Hassan Alwy

Denver Pierce
Jesse Tree

Project and Site Supervisors VISTA Leader VISTA Members Administrative Costs

Karen Baptiste

Lindsey Smith

Vice-President of the Board The Reverend Mark McNeese
Cumberland Presbyterian, Austin

Roman Catholic Church, Austin

Statewide VISTA

The Reverend Robert Williams Roman Catholic Church Bishop Joe S. Vasquez
Roman Catholic Church, Houston

Hill Country Highland Lakes

Luke Blount

Donna TalmageGibson

Treasurer of the Board Mr. Robert Goodrich
United Methodist Church, Lubbock

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development

Faith Communities for Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Project Funders
October 1, 2008 - September 30, 2009

Carolyn Gibbs

Gail Torosian Adam Walke
El Paso LTRC

Pastor Ron Heimsoth
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Fort Worth

Bishop James A. Tamayo

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development

Houston Food Bank

Roman Catholic Church, Laredo

3% 39% 58%
CNCS Indirect Grant CNCS Direct Grant Church World Service

Paul Graham

Liberty County LTRC

Selena Xie

Reverend Charles Kutz-Marks
Disciples of Christ, Austin

The Reverend Dr. J. Andy Fowler

United Methodist Church Killeen

Morgan Hargrave
Texas Impact

Texas Impact

Alex Hebert

The Rt. Reverend David Reed
Episcopal Church, San Antonio

Ms. Irene Jackson

United Methodist Church Irving

Hill Country Highland Lakes LTRC

Bishop Jim Dorff

Evelyn Jones Corporation for National and Community Service Indirect Grant Corporation for National and Community Service Direct Grant Church World Service Total Annual Giving $119,150.26 $80,203.01 $5,349.71 $204,702.98

Independence Heights Assitance Ministries

Reverend Elizabeth Turner
Episcopal Church, Austin

United Methodist Church San Antonio

Kate Lester

Bishop Ray Tiemann
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Seguin

Houston Galveston Institute

Note: The CNCS Indirect Grant refers to all funding that does not go directly through our office. These funds include both VISTA and VISTA Leader living stipends and end-of-service stipends.

Prima Mosi

Central Texas VOAD