The Power of Partnerships: A Christmas Blessing

Rev. Jim Kirk | January 5, 2024

The following was part of the 2023 Christmas greeting from CWS’ Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Team. “In the EPRR program, this year has reflected one of CWS’ original missions, ‘to do in partnership what none of us could hope to do as well alone.’” 

These words speak to the power of partnerships supported by CWS. In the fall of 2023, I participated in a monthly CWS Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Denomination Meeting. During the meeting, a discussion took place on the status of Marshall County, Kentucky’s long-term recovery from a tornado that hit on December 10, 2021 and caused significant damage in the community. It was mentioned that the two primary work partners were finishing their work in October and moving out of Marshall County. 

Debris in Kentucky following the December 2021 tornado.

The work partners were not leaving due to lack of case-managed work helping survivors; it was due to a lack of funding. Sadly, this is a familiar script in the work of long-term recovery. 

On the call, several of the denominational partners shared that they still had long-term recovery funding available for the devasting tornadoes in December 2021 that caused widespread destruction throughout Western Kentucky. 

This denominational meeting led to a series of conversations that became a Christmas blessing.  

One of the work partners active in Marshall County was willing to remain if funding could be identified. As of October 2023, the Marshall County Long Term Recovery Group identified at least 50 cases of individuals still needing construction and rebuilding assistance. Five denominational partners came together to provide the funding necessary to continue this important ministry.  

The blessing? As a result of the monthly CWS Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Denomination Meeting, there are at least 12 additional families in Marshall County beginning the new year in hope. The hope that they are not forgotten after two years of working to recover from the December 2021 tornadoes that turned their lives (literally) upside down. The hope that they will end 2024 back home. The hope that all can work for good when people of faith come together in partnership. 

Rev. Jim Kirk is the Associate for U.S. Disaster Response with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, one of CWS’ National VOAD partners. To learn more about the CWS Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery program, click here.