Role of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Providing Relief and Recovery Services After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. General Characteristics of the Eight Cases


The eight cases selected for study include faith-based organizations, secular community-based organizations, and those that represent a combined effort of faith-based and community organizations in a formal collaboration. Table 28 describes the type and location of each organization, its origin and purpose, and the reach of each response.

Six of the eight cases were in Louisiana, two in Mississippi. The six in Louisiana were Common Ground Health Clinic (CGHC), Community Initiatives Foundation (CIF), Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership (GNODRP), Partners in Prayer (PIPS), St. Lukes Episcopal Church, and Vermilion Faith Community of Care (VFCC). The two in Mississippi were Community Care Network (CCN) and Hope Haven (HH). Four were based in urban areastwo in New Orleans (CGHC, GNODRP) and two in Baton Rouge (St. Lukes and CIF). CIF served evacuees from New Orleans. St. Lukes served evacuees from New Orleans, but also worked directly in New Orleans in the immediate cleanup after the storm. GNODRP is based in New Orleans but is a regional consortium serving nine parishes in the southeastern part of Louisiana that were directly impacted by Katrina. Four cases serve areas that are less densely populated, a mix of small cities and rural areasVFCC in Vermilion Parish, PIPS/United Way in the City of Lake Charles (but serving five southwestern Louisiana parishes), and CCN and Hope Haven in small communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Six of the eight cases served areas immediately impacted by either Hurricane Katrina or Rita. The two impacted directly by RitaPIPS and VFCChad two stories. First, they housed Katrina evacuees, principally from New Orleans, as they made their way west on Interstate Highway 10. Then, three weeks later, PIPS and VFCC were forced to displace those evacuees to serve their own residents when Hurricane Rita headed directly toward their communities.

The types of organizations were varied. St. Lukes was a place of worship. CCN and Hope Haven were direct social service providers: CCN provided services to female prisoners reentering the community, and Hope Haven was a shelter for abused and neglected children. CGHC provided health care services. Three cases were collaborations focused specifically on disaster responseGNODRP for long-term recovery of the southeastern Louisiana region, VFCC for uniting the faith-based community to respond to disasters generally, and CIF for helping children affected by the 2005 hurricanes. PIPS was founded as a faith-based organization in Lake Charles to address school violence. Only one case was formally part of a larger governing structure: St. Lukes is overseen by the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.

Of the three organizations created as a result of the storm, CIF and GNODRP as of this writing remain focused on the needs of Hurricane Katrina victims, while CGHC, created as a response to the collapse of the health care system in the wake of the hurricane, remains broadly focused on health care for low-income residents of the Algiers community in New Orleans.

Three of the four organizations that were faith based (PIPS, CCN, and St. Lukes) provided faith-infused services in their pre-hurricane missions. However, because of the nature of collaborations, all but one of the eight cases represent a mix of faith-based and secular organizations in their disaster response. The melding of faith and community-based organizations is significant. While religious conviction may have been the basis for personal motivation to respond, the general humanitarian response and specific catalyst for involvement is often indistinguishable between religious and secular organizations. Whether or how faith was infused in disaster assistance is unclear in several cases.

In order to understand these very different and complex stories, and as a preface to the analysis that follows, snapshots of the eight cases studied are provided. The snapshots tell how the disaster response emerged, and key attributes that help explain why the organizations responded as they did and where they were as of summer 2008.

Table 28.
General Characteristics of the Cases
Case Faith-based or secular Location Relation to Hurricane Impact (Katrina or Rita) Organizational
Created in response to storm Disaster Response Operations
Area of direct impact Outside area of impact Highest number of staff in disaster response Over $1 million for disaster response
Common Ground Health Clinic Secular New Orleans X   Emergency and primary health care to the predominantly low-income African American community of Algiers X 7 X
Community Initiatives Foundation Secular Baton Rouge   X Advocacy and provision of services to children displaced by Hurricane Katrina X 2 X
Greater New Orleans Disaster Relief Partnership Secular New Orleans X   Regional coordination of long-term recovery and preparedness services following Hurricane Katrina X 3 X
Partners in Prayer for Schools Faith-based Lake Charles X
Reduction of violence and promotion of parental involvement in schools through prayer and volunteerism   2  
St. Lukes Episcopal Church Faith-based Baton Rouge   X Church and day school   78  
Vermilion Faith Community of Care Faith-based Abbeville X
Unification of the faith community of Vermilion Parish to assist families and communities in preparation for and recovery from disasters, and support and expansion of other programs that meet critical human need   2  
Community Care Network Faith-based Ocean Springs X   Reintegration of homeless women from adult detention centers or substance abuse programs   2  
Hope Haven Secular Waveland X   Licensed shelter for abused and neglected children   2  

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