Adventist Development and Relief Agency
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church. We deliver relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 130 countries—regardless of their ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, or religious association.
In Canada, ADRA works in tandem with other NGOs and governments to provide sustainable support to people in need. Development work focuses on helping vulnerable population, including specialized programs for First Nations communities. Relief work aims to help people rebuild their lives after a major emergency or a disaster.
ADRA’s Disaster and Emergency Response (DER) program consists of training and equipping SDA church members and other volunteers to provide various services in their neighbourhood, their communities, provincially or nationally.
The program focused primarily on two avenues for support. First, ADRA is recognized for its expertise in the collection, triage, and distribution of In-Kind donations and second, for its Crisis Care program, an emotional support function for victims of disasters.
Full Organization Name
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Office Phone: 1-416-725-9451
24 Hour Phone: 1-647-290-9873
20 Robert Street West,
Description of Organization
What we offer
1. In-kind donation management
The primary service that ADRA DER program offers in Canada is the management of in-kind donations. In many emergencies and most disasters, the natural response of the public is a desire to help the people affected. For years, the emergency management community has been encouraging people to give money through recognized charitable organizations, but the reality is that not everyone has disposable income they can use for donations. What many people turn to is the closet where they can find garments they no longer use, or the attic where they have furniture they no longer require. These are then sent to the area affected by the emergency and it often quickly becomes what we refer to as the “second disaster”. These items are usually pushed aside, possibly stored in a location out of the way of the emergency response and support teams during the emergency. Once the emergency is over and the situation resolved, the teams then must take action to dispose of these items in various ways. This poses logistical and sometimes ethical problems.
The ADRA DER program has developed a step by step process to manage this situation early on so it doesn’t become a second disaster. The process includes collection, triage, identification, packaging, temporary storage, transportation, and distribution of all in-kind donations sent in the context of emergencies and disasters. This process is efficient, simple, and beneficial for the people affected in disasters. It has been used many times in situation all over the US and in some other countries. It was also used in Quebec during the 1996 Saguenay floods and in Alberta during the 2016 Fort McMurray Fires amongst others.
The result is a distribution of clean garments in good condition, sorted by users (male, female, infants, linens), by type (shirts, pants, blouse, skirts), and by size. In addition, the distribution of furniture, house ware, toys, and other amenities follows a similar triage system to ensure fair to good quality items are offered to people affected by emergencies. Additionally, unusable items are either recycled according to local recycling bylaws or discarded in an environmentally friendly manner.
Teams of trained volunteers from SDA churches either locally or through deployment, will offer this service upon request by the community affected or by provincial emergency management authorities.
2. Crisis Care (Psycho-social support)
During an emergency, people need to turn to someone to get emotional support. Many people may count on families and friends for this. However, there are people who do not have such a network and look elsewhere for comfort. The Crisis Care concept is a psycho-social service where people can come and express their feelings in total confidentiality and respect of personal issues and beliefs. Emergency response organizations often provide critical stress management to their staff after a traumatic experience. The Crisis Care program offers similar services to individuals affected by the emergency. The main difference is that this service is provided one on one to the individuals instead of group sessions.
This service is offered through the participation of specially trained crisis response counselors, usually from the church pastoral teams, and chaplains, who provide their services on a volunteer basis. The counselors receive extensive training and a strong emphasis is included on the aspect of this service being offered regardless of spiritual beliefs or denominational affiliation of the clients. The counselors are in no way allowed to teach or preach any doctrine to the clients. The whole emphasis of the program is on giving opportunities for people to ask questions and to be heard.
3. Spontaneous volunteer management
In most emergencies, people from the community where the situation occurs want to participate in the relief operations. They wish to do something for their community. This poses several problems. These citizens, referred to as spontaneous volunteers, may not have the appropriate training to take certain actions. The response and recovery authorities in place do not have records for these people and the vulnerable person verification may not exist. These people may become a liability should they get injured from improper usage of tools or by working without personal protective equipment.
At the same time, refusing the help of spontaneous volunteers can be seen as unethical. Not allowing these people to participate is also hindering in the grieving and emotional restoration of the community.
The ADRA DER program has many functions within the in-kind donation management that can make use of volunteers with minimal risks and liabilities. A large portion of the system operates without any contact with the general public. This reduces the need for vulnerable person verifications. Most of the duties performed involve limited physical risk. There are generally no exposures to dangerous areas or hazardous substances. There is usually very minimal lifting. This reduces the liability and injury risk.
However, the major benefit of the system is that every part of the operation is supervised by trained volunteers that ensure the constant safety of all workers. This allows for a safe, secure, and almost risk-free operation where spontaneous volunteers can contribute. It provides local citizens with a sense that they are participating in the return to normalcy of their community.
4. Support to other disaster relief agencies
On occasion, In-Kind donation management is not required as part of the emergency response. When this happens, we have teams of trained volunteers that can be seconded to assist other agencies in fulfilling their roles. The ADRA DER teams can come to the aid of the Red Cross or Salvation Army for example, working within shelters. Being able to count on an additional volunteer workforce that is trained, understands the systems in place in the province during an emergency, and for which vulnerable person checks have been done, can be very beneficial for those agencies.
In addition, the SDA conferences have churches all around the province. These facilities can be opened to the public to serve as reception centres, temporary shelters, public information hubs, evacuation gathering points, cooling centres, or warming centres.