Diocese’s OJP gets grant to help tornado victims
The diocesan Office of Justice and Peace has received a $10,000 grant from Catholic Charities USA to help families in the far southwest region whose homes were damaged or lost in the tornadoes that struck last April.
Justin Reilly, OJP regional coordinator for far southwest Virginia, pointed out that the aid is especially welcome since Virginia was denied recovery funding assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
He received word of the Catholic Charities grant on June 27.
The grant is for “longterm housing assistance” in Washington County, where most of the tornado damage occurred, Mr. Reilly explained. He said the money will be used for equipment and materials, with labor to be provided by volunteers from St. Anne Parish, Bristol, and Christ the King Parish, Abingdon, along with members of other Catholic churches in the area.
Mr. Reilly, who will coordinate the effort, said his office will select three to five families and houses to be worked on during the coming year. He expects the project to get underway within six months.
After the tornado hit on April 27, Mr. Reilly said, “We were trying to figure out a way to respond.”
When he learned that Catholic Charities USA has disaster assistance funds available specifically for their Catholic Charities partner agencies (OJP is a division of Commonwealth Catholic Charities), he contacted Mountain Empire Red Cross and other relief agencies in the area to find out what gaps there were in assisting families affected by the disaster. He learned that the need was for long term housing assistance.
Before applying for the Catholic Charities funds Mr. Reilly also discussed the proposal with pastors Fathers Tim Keeney and Paul Meier of St. Anne and Christ the King, respectively, “to confirm that they would be on board, and of course they were very much for it.”
“This is a good opportunity for all of us in the Catholic community down here to get involved in helping the tornado victims,” said Mr. Reilly.
“Here we have both a calling and an opportunity to live out our Catholic social teaching,” he noted. “The good thing is that there is an abundance of kind, compassionate, humble people in our parishes of this region who want to help and serve their neighbors.”
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