John Pyron
Lutheran Disaster Response

I’ve been involved in disaster response work since 2004 and started as a volunteer on the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama following Hurricane Ivan. Throughout the years I have served in a variety of roles from construction to long-term recovery group coordination. I’ve also served with two Lutheran Social Service agencies before transitioning into the role of Program Director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) Lutheran Disaster Response-US (LDR-US) program, which is where I am now.

Our program engages a national network of Lutheran synods as well as Lutheran social service organizations and external partners that respond to the needs of communities impacted by disasters. We understand that all disasters are local and our focus is to empower communities to engage and recover. We support organizations like Liberty Lutheran and Lutheran Disaster Response- Eastern Pennsylvania (LDR-EPA) because we know that they are the ones on the ground who are closest to the needs of each community.

Everything we do is survivor-centric. When we support LDR-EPA we ensure that the people impacted by disasters can get the assistance that they need, and we can’t do that without funding. The majority of funding that we receive comes from direct contributions. A lot of those donations are 20 or 50 dollars. All of those donations really do make a difference and we would not be able to support organizations like LDR-EPA without them.

LDR’s impact is crucial for so many communities impacted by disasters as governmental assistance will largely not be sufficient to meet all of their needs. This is especially the case for disasters that are small and highly localized, the ones that aren’t getting media attention. That’s where the impact of fundraising really helps to ensure those communities are not overlooked. A great example of this is the Eastwick neighborhood of Philadelphia, where LDR-EPA is working actively.

This is a historically underserved community and disastrous weather is piled onto their already existing challenges. The exciting part is when an organization like LDR-EPA works with community members to address some of their larger issues and the root causes of their vulnerability. LDR-EPA can help them build resilience to make their neighborhood stronger. I am excited to support the work that LDR-EPA is doing and look forward to additional partnerships in the future.