Project Health Kit — The Power of Nine

New Jersey managed to escape Hurricane Hermine earlier this season, and now Hurricane Matthew. Imagine for a moment that you’ve had to flee you home due to a natural disaster, like Superstorm Sandy, or because of crisis, war, and conflict. Now imagine you’ve received a Health Kit containing basic necessities: a hand towel, washcloth, comb, nail file or clippers, soap, toothbrush, adhesive bandages, plastic bag and toothpaste.

Knowing these nine items can change the outlooks and lives of vulnerable people all over the world, all five of United Methodist Communities’ affordable housing campuses (The Wesleyan, Red Bank; Wesley by the Bay, Ocean City; Covenant Place, Plainfield; Bishop Taylor, East Orange; and PineRidge of Montclair) chose United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Health Kits for a mission project. The team also felt motivated to show compassion and affirm human worth and dignity.

In January 2016, as part of an organization-wide comprehensive mission education program, the associate-led Housing Mission Team formed and began planning. Over the next nine months, they partnered with their residents, collected the kit items as well as monetary donations.

Last week, they gathered at The Wesleyan to complete the final phase of the mission project – packing and shipping the kits. The Wesleyan’s Housing Administrator and Mission Team leader, Gertrude Kehleay, welcomed all and thanked the residents and staff, who not only generously gave enough items for 101 kits, but also raised $310.

Cindy Jacques, vice president of housing and community initiatives, commented, “Local mission activities such as this, bring mission to life and inspire ownership of United Methodist Communities’ core values.”

As Disaster Response Coordinator for the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Chris Miller representing that organization as well as UMCOR. Rev. Miller affirmed, “The Health Kits are used for disaster relief and to teach personal hygiene, cooking, literacy, and nutrition. Representing the hands of God in a broken world, the kits can be life-transforming and lifesaving.”

UMCOR focuses on humanitarian relief and disaster response around the world, and cooperates with other aid organizations. While it is not a first responder organization, it does some early response, assesses damage and remains involved, primarily through long-term education, training, and support.

Rev. Miller observed, “UMCOR is among the last organizations on the ground here in post-Sandy New Jersey.”

UMCommunities at The Wesleyan Housing Mission team PHOTO CAPTION: United Methodist Communities President and CEO, Larry Carlson; and Vice President of Housing, Cindy Jacques (rightmost and second from right), join Housing Mission Team Leader, Gertrude Kehleay (third from left); and associate team members (left to right), Deede Bolger, Monique Degivenchy, Tanya Sweet Preston, Kerileigh Sherman, Jeanette Edghill, Dee Carmichael, and India Santos.
UMCommunities at The Wesleyan Housing Mission team PHOTO CAPTION:
United Methodist Communities President and CEO, Larry Carlson; and Vice President of Housing, Cindy Jacques (rightmost and second from right), join Housing Mission Team Leader, Gertrude Kehleay (third from left); and associate team members (left to right), Deede Bolger, Monique Degivenchy, Tanya Sweet Preston, Kerileigh Sherman, Jeanette Edghill, Dee Carmichael, and India Santos.