Altoona District VIM Team

The event that triggered the birth of the Altoona District Volunteers-In-Mission (VIM) Team was hurricane Katrina in August 2005.  The public in general was touched by the TV coverage of the wide spread destruction of the storm.  Many individuals, businesses and organizations sought ways to assist the victims, and a tremendous amount of money and materials were donated through large charitable organizations.  In the Altoona area there were a large number of people who wanted to help in a more personal manner by volunteering to go on mission trips to the gulf coast, and churches of all denominations stepped forward to organize these efforts.

Through the leadership of the Altoona District United Methodist Church office, the VIM Team was formed, and communications were established with a long standing organization that continually helps disaster victims worldwide:  the United Methodist Committee on Relief or UMCOR.  When disasters occur, regional disaster response offices are formed in the disaster area to provide immediate assistance, to help storm victims file Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) /Small Business Administration (SBA) claims and to handle the important recovery tasks of matching needs of the stricken area with skills of incoming volunteer teams.  Through the Susquehanna PA Conference there are many Volunteers-In-Mission (VIM) opportunities that can be joined or supported.  People on Initial or Early Response Teams (IRTs or ERTs) must have special training and certification.  The primary focus the Altoona District VIM Team is assisting victims who need help during the recovery and rebuilding phase.  Typically those we help are elderly, disabled, single parents or economically disadvantaged.  In other words, those who really need a helping hand.

The Altoona District VIM Team is organized to serve the community in several ways.

Ø  Altoona District Mission Team responds to assist disaster victims in other areas

Ø  Provides the capability to respond to disasters in the local area (should they occur)

Ø  Supports local mission projects to help those in need in our own community

Ø  Works with the 1st satellite HUB operation where local volunteers build Cleaning Kits, Layette Kits, Health Kits and School Kits (among other items) which are collected/distributed by the United Methodist Susquehanna Conference “Mission Central” in Mechanicsburg, PA.  Volunteers at the Altoona HUB also make quilts from old jeans and sends these quilts with the VIM team to be given to the disaster victim families.  The address of the Altoona HUB is 1738 N. Branch Ave, Altoona, PA 16602.

Resources to support Altoona District VIM Team activities

Ø  Through local donations the Altoona District VIM Team has a well-equipped tool trailer to support VIM team mission trips or local projects

Ø  Registration fees for volunteers pay all costs of transportation, accommodations and meals related to Altoona District mission trips

o   Registration fees are paid by each volunteer or by their church, their employer, by family or friends

Ø  Donations and fund raisers provide resources to meet material requirements on mission trips and local projects

o   Donations to the Altoona District VIM  are tax deductible

o   Since registration fees pay team expenses, 100% of donations for VIM materials go directly to victims requirements.

 Support needed from the community falls in three categories:

Ø  Players – Volunteers to become part of an Altoona District Mission Team or to support the Altoona HUB operation to assemble kits.  

Ø  Prayers – We know that not all people have the time or resources to participate in every mission trip and local project, but the supporting prayers of family, friends or co-workers make a big difference.

Ø  Payers – Any donations for VIM materials or to assist volunteers with registration fees are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.  Donations toward VIM materials are 100% applied to the needs of supported families.

 For more information, contact:

Ø  Joy Shields at vimaltoona@susumc.org

Ø  Mary Schnaubelt, mschnaubelt@susumc.org , 814.693.9220 at the Altoona District UMC Office, 1381 Plank Rd, Suite 104, Duncansville, PA 16635-8458.


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