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Florida Baptist Disaster Relief wants you

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Are you a volunteer with the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief and want more training to master your ministry ability? Maybe you're new to the ministry and want to sign up to volunteer in the case of a devastating natural disaster. Now's your chance to make a difference as the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team is setting up a regional training event. The training will take place on Saturday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at City Church, located at 3215 Sessions Rd., in Tallahassee. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. the day of the event.

The Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief is a ministry-branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, allowing Florida Baptists to act immediately and effectively as Jesus did to help people. "When people are hurting because of a disaster, we respond with love, healing and help," according to the Florida Baptist Convention's Disaster Relief webpage. "We assist in all people in crisis regardless of ethnic background or religious beliefs. We do not ask the survivors for financial support."

The mission of the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief and Recovery Ministries is to "make a difference" in times of disaster by connecting Florida Baptist Churches and Associations to people and communities impacted by disaster and by responding with help, healing and hope that demonstrates and shares the love of Christ.

Emergency Management officials now require all volunteers to be credentialed by an organization like the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team before volunteers are allowed to work in a disaster response area. The upcoming regional training event is designed to meet those requirements and prepare volunteers to do effective ministry when called upon to do so.

If you're a first-time volunteer, you will participate in the new volunteer class, designed to prepare volunteers to be able to respond effectively with the Florida Baptist Convention Disaster Relief ministry. Information will be shared to help answer questions that are typically asked by new volunteers.

This training is open to everyone of all ages, however, anyone under the age of 18 will be considered a youth participant. Youth cannot be called out to volunteer on their own, therefore they will need to respond with a credentialed legal guardian. Youth do not have to pay for registration and will only receive a youth identification badge and lunch during the training session.

During the informative event, first-time volunteers will be able to choose ministry area classes to obtain specialized training in the area they most likely want to work in. Ministry area classes include mass feeding, cleanup and recovery, administration, temporary child care services, emergency response team, logistics and spiritual care. Volunteers may cross-train in other ministry areas by attending another regional training event.

The registration fee for first-time volunteers is $25 and will be paid upon arriving at the training session. The price includes lunch, training materials, an identification badge, a t-shirt and a hat. These items will be mailed to you after the ministry has received background check clearance, which is an additional fee and must be completed online at www.flbaptist.org/disaster-relief-training.

If you're a returning volunteer, you have several options to choose from. During the morning, you may choose to get additional training in your primary ministry area. After lunch, you may choose to attend another ministry area class to receive training in another specialty, allowing you to expand your ability to minister. The registration fee is $20 for returning volunteers and will be paid upon arriving at the training session. The price includes lunch and training materials.

If you're a returning volunteer but your identification badge has expired, you will be prompted to attend the new volunteer class to receive a new badge. Badges expire every three years. A background check will be required when badges are renewed.

More information about the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief can be found by logging onto www.flbaptist.org/about-disaster-relief/.

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