Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Our most pervasive community program -- addressing every problem faced in society with one-on-one help -- is our international Scientology volunteer Minister's crusade.

Trained in basic Scientology tools that resolve the problems of day-to-day life, Volunteer Ministers bring help whenever it is needed, wherever it is needed.

Their motto is "Something can be done about it."

Churches around the world send out Volunteer Ministers to help their communities with effective solutions to the problems of life.

From personal upsets and troubled relationships to injuries or the loss of a loved one -- the Volunteer Ministers reach into their communities to succor those in need.

No problem is too small, nor too large. To bring that help everywhere, we also launched an international tour to take our solutions to far-flung areas, from remote parts of Brazil to Botswana in Africa and from the Baltic States in Europe to the Indian subcontinent.

Whether from local churches or our traveling cavalcades, in 2005 over 60,000 Volunteer Ministers devoted their time across more than 1,500 towns and cities to help those in need.

But, there was something else memorable about 2005. Unfortunately it was also a record setting year for disasters.

And VM's answered the call each and every time.

In fact, our Volunteer Ministers served in fourteen "full-blown" disaster zones.

In that regard, the work of Tampa Bay VMs has been recognized by the Governor with the "Points of Light" Award and "Florida Emergency Operations Center" counts on the VMs as a vital part of the state disaster response team. In September, they were front and center in Dade County to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma.

They handled logistics for FEMA, overseeing distribution of food, water and ice to about 100,000 citizens.

They have become so well known that the Miami Herald noted that volunteers from the Church of Scientology are quote "ubiquitous at every disaster" unquote.

Then again, when Hurricane Stan hit Guatemala, the Volunteer Ministers took charge of supply lines. And following the London terrorist bombings, the Volunteer Ministers provided personal assistance to those directly affected and logistical support to both the Transport Police and Scotland Yard.

While as for riot-torn streets in Paris, again our Volunteer Ministers provided a moral compass to both sides in the outraged neighborhoods, until it was safe again.

Even out across the Indian ocean, in the wake of tsunamis that devastated the coasts of 4 nations, 600 VMs moved into action organizing and running refugee centers, manning the supply lines, but most of all providing personal "assists" to those afflicted.

From the worst hit areas of Indonesia and Thailand to the coastal towns and cities of Sri Lanka and southern India, the VM's provided personal and group counseling to more than 300,000 and trained more than 50,000 to extend their help even further. In October, it was the earthquake in Pakistan.

With the entire region virtually leveled, the VMs first priority was distributing food and water. They then moved in with "assists" for the injured and shocked -- providing one-on-one help to over 7,000 while training 3,000 more. And the meaning of what those volunteer Ministers brought was made clear in the words of one of the Islamic Relief workers when he said:

"Allah has answered Pakistan's prayer and sent forth his Angels."

Yet, when it comes to the effective help of VM's at the forefront of disasters, it was Katrina that summed it all up.

Hundreds of Scientology Volunteer Ministers mobilized throughout the area working together with relief and rescue agencies, law enforcement and the military.

Arriving on the scene within hours, once again they delivered badly needed equipment and supplies, manned three key evacuee shelters and organized communication systems.

To assist emergency personnel, Volunteer Ministers who are also trained medics and nurses provided much-needed tetanus shots, while wellcknown artists lent their names and gave their time to personally assist those in need, bringing in and distributing relief supplies. But standing behind them were more than 900 volunteers working across three states to help 70,000 victims of Katrina.

In total, in 2005, Volunteer Ministers on every continent devoted more than 2.8 million hours to help over 1.6 million people.

So when it comes to assisting those in need, we are doing something about it any time and anywhere.