The church expects to give a total gift of $250,000 to LTRO in 2012.
Roger Jenne, chairman of the Broad Street United Methodist Church board of trustees, said, “There can be no better use of funds designated to be used for the benefit of others than to support his worthwhile project. Now is the time to step forward, help families rebuild neighborhoods, strengthen the overall community and bring everyone back to a ‘new normal.’”
Matt Carlson, LTRO co-chair, said, “Broad Street United Methodist Church has been very active in the community over the years and this significant donation just echoes the congregation’s strong commitment to helping others in need. As a community, we are blessed to have churches like Broad Street UMC and are thankful for their leadership in helping heal this community.”
Jenne said the endowment was established in the 1960s at the bequest of Robert B. Hurt. Since that time, funds have been used to help various charitable organizations in Cleveland and Bradley County.
The idea of donating to LTRO came from two church members. After a presentation to the board by LTRO Director Jim Polier and a seven-month vetting process to ensure the organization spends the money to help people rather than pay administrative costs, the decision was made.
Polier said people who seek assistance from the organization fall into three categories. They didn’t have insurance, didn’t have enough insurance or FEMA money to rebuild or make repairs — and then there are the ones who were taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors.
“They got the money, hired somebody to do the work. They didn’t do the work and now it’s halfway finished and the contractor took off with the money or didn’t do what he was supposed to,” Polier said. “Now, the individual is left holding the bag and can’t finish the project.
“We’ve got about 120 cases we have gone through. Ninety-six of those we have closed. We’re still getting more cases. We will have completed seven build projects by the end of this month, not including repair projects.”
But not all closed cases required repair work. Some were satisfied through unmet needs.
“There are bicycles from Cormetech, 144 appliances from Whirlpool, Christmas gifts and trees, bedding — it just goes on and on with a number of things,” he said.
When asked if he saw an end to the damage, Polier answered, “Yes and no. We still have some (four or five) build projects we’re working on because we’re still working through legal issues or insurance issues to clear them up. We can’t move forward until we clear those up.”
Repair projects are ongoing. Some are quite extensive such as digging around foundations to fix the cinder blocks so water doesn’t leak through,” he said.
“We see an end to some of that, but the second phase we’re going into is to begin inventorying abandoned property.”
Another area of concern is what to do with the tremendous number of fallen trees.
LTRO was formed in early May 2011 in response to the devastating storms of April 27, 2011. Immediately, local elected officials endorsed this group as the lead organization in the recovery efforts and now to the less damaging storm on March 2.