Funders Forum Brings Donors Together with Groups Helping Survivors
By Veronica Hinke, FEMA National Disaster Recovery Support
Vital connections are being made in tornado-ravaged central Oklahoma, where the National Disaster Recovery Framework has been initiated for the first time ever in the history of the state.
On July 25, just a little more than two months after a rare EF-5 tornado devastated much of the area, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation hosted a Funders Forum in their downtown offices. The Funders Forum was planned to help connect financial donors with local agencies that are helping survivors.
During the two-hour-long meeting, agencies representing the $50 million plus in generously-donated disaster relief dollars listened to specialists with Oklahoma Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters, or Oklahoma VOAD, and FEMA as they presented information about programs that are available to survivors.
“The Funders Forum was an opportunity for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, FEMA, and Oklahoma VOAD to tell the story of disaster-related unmet need as it relates to the community and the survivors that were impacted,” said Jamie Dake, FEMA Region VI voluntary agency liaison. “This platform enabled participating funders to understand the sequence of assistance and maximize the use of donated resources.”
The Funders Forum was unique in that the focus was on unmet needs of not only individuals but on the community as a whole. To this end, FEMA’s Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation departments discussed what types of projects they are able to fund through traditional disaster assistance grants and those that they are not able to fund. This unmet needs identification leads directly into the work that NDRF undertakes to meet the whole community’s recovery needs.
Ashley Moore, director of family support services with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City gave an overview of the Oklahoma VOAD and explained the process for developing and resourcing a recovery plan.
“It is important to remember that rebuilding can take time, and that’s why long-term recovery assistance programs, such as those offered by Catholic Charities and the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project, are so important,” Moore said.
FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaisons are collaborating with the Community Planning and Capacity Building Recovery Support Function which operates under the National Disaster Recovery Framework. The mission of Community Planning and Capacity Building is to develop and strengthen recovery and planning capacities and resources of local, State and Tribal governments.
“In any community, grassroots engagements like the Funders Forum lay the foundation for successful recovery and continuity,” said Wayne Rickard, federal disaster recovery coordinator. “When the people who live and work in disaster-impacted communities come together to address these key aspects, they naturally claim personal ownership of their recovery and capacity building. This generates enthusiasm – which inspires friends and neighbors in a way that is critical to a community’s cycle of success.”