Volunteer training held in Spanish

UMCOR introduces new Spanish resources for TX disaster responders

July 14, 2018

Luis Morales, ERT trainer for UMCOR leads day-long workshop in Spanish.
Credit: North Texas Conference of The UMC

Luis Morales, shows a volunteer tips to help in response.
Credit: North Texas Conference of The UMC

In a first for a border state, Early Response Training (ERT) for volunteers was held in Spanish last month in Rowlett, TX. The training was organized by the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Luis Morales, ERT trainer for the United Methodist Commission on Relief (UMCOR), led the classes, complete with a new training book in Spanish, said Janet Bell Odom, the North Texas Conference’s disaster response coordinator. The daylong session was held in the First UMC Rowlett.

The training program helps volunteers understand how to appropriate respond to disasters.

“Luis Morales is usually in Puerto Rico,” Odom said, so scheduling him was “a great opportunity.” Morales has been spending much of his time on the island since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck in September 2017.

First UMC Rowlett has first-hand experience in disaster relief. On Dec. 26, 2015, tornadoes swept through North Texas, resulting in 13 deaths. Rowlett was one of the hard-hit areas.

Associate Pastor Georgiennette Haddock, who leads Hispanic ministries at First UMC, expected to sign up 15 people for the Spanish-language sessions. Instead, 21 took the class, and, with others who wanted to participate but couldn’t make it that day, the demand is strong, Haddock said.

"In a time of crisis, people want to speak in their mother language," she added.

She can attest to the importance of communicating in a person’s first language in the confusion following a disaster. For 15 days, she did not know whether her parents back home in Puerto Rico had survived after Hurricane Maria. She was especially worried about her father, who was in frail health.

She is now housing relatives from Puerto Rico as that island struggles to recover.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Website of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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