Often, especially in times of disaster, churches and faith-based organizations are called on to help out.
But how exactly can they help? Does their facility have a commercial kitchen that can feed those in need of a hot meal? Are there beds where people who have lost their home can stay? What about bathrooms? Or medical help?
The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge is working to find out.
This week, the organization launched a communitywide assessment to identify ways local congregations respond to the needs of people, especially in times of disasters and emergencies, according to the Rev. Robin McCullough Bade, executive director of the federation.
Bade said the survey was mailed this week to more than 600 area congregations. Church officials also can fill out the survey online at ifedgbr.com through March 10.
Beyond finding out disaster preparation, Bade said she hopes the assessment will help discover where there are gaps in services and areas for future training.
The information gained from the survey will be used to coordinate and collaborate the efforts of the local faith communities, especially as hurricane season approaches.
Bade said the assessment is being done in conjunction with the office of East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and parish officials in the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Baton Rouge Police Department.
"Much good is being done by people of faith and goodwill in East Baton Rouge Parish. Clergy and congregations offer tremendous leadership and compassion following hurricanes and floods, but also in response to ongoing emergencies and daily needs," Bade said in a news release. "Much of what happens is behind the scenes. Communication is key. Who is doing what? What training might be offered to strengthen a congregation’s ability to serve the community? This congregation assessment is an important first step. We urge all congregations of East Baton Rouge Parish to submit an online assessment."
Clay Rives, East Baton Rouge Parish emergency preparedness director, said faith-based and community organizations offer a wide variety of human and material resources that can prove invaluable before, during and after a disaster or emergency.
"This proactive assessment helps identify, coordinate and enhance our local core capabilities from a network of stakeholders that routinely provide critical services and help prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents in our community,” Rives said in the release, adding, “We are hoping for a great response from this whole-community engagement effort.”
More information can be found at ifedgbr.com or call (225) 267-5600.