Individuals who volunteer with Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) through Lutheran Congregational Services, a ministry of Liberty Lutheran, were recognized by the city of Philadelphia at a Volunteer Recognition Ceremony at the Fairmount Waterworks. Samantha Phillips, the Acting Deputy Managing Director for Emergency Management, presented a Mayor’s Proclamation to Julia Menzo, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator and Disaster Response Co-Coordinator for Liberty Lutheran. Julia is the President of Southeastern Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SEPA VOAD).

April Geriso, Deputy Director for Planning, Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, presented certificates to LDR volunteers and volunteers from other SEPA VOAD organizations including United Methodist Committee on Relief, United Church of Christ Disaster Relief and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.  “Without partnerships among faith based and nonprofit disaster response groups, as well as city and county emergency management, the work of meeting long term needs following disaster would not be possible,” Julia said.

Rev. Dr. Malcolm T Byrd, Mayor Office on Faith-Based Initiatives led a moment of silence in memory of Philadelphia’s fallen firefighters and expressed his gratitude to the volunteers.

“Almost any volunteer will tell you that being honored for doing what you are supposed to do isn’t necessary.  While the time and thoughtfulness that Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management took to recognize the role of disaster response organizations and the dedicated volunteers was not necessary, it certainly was meaningful and worthwhile,” Julia said.

Pictured from left are Bill Elliot, LDR volunteer; Julia Menzo; Babette Walter, LRD volunteer; John Pirrone, LDR volunteer; Rich Gitlen, Vice President of Community Services, Liberty Lutheran;  Jennifer Ollikainen, Director of Ministries, Liberty Lutheran, and Wendell Gulick, LDR volunteer.

Click here for pictures of the event!