Austin Disaster Relief Network
photos courtesy Derick Zwerneman
The Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) is a growing non-profit that engages and guides churches as part of a network that offers hope in times of disaster.
Derick, who is ADRN’s Network Development Manager, says, “It’s about strengthening existing relationships and growing our network. We connect with new churches and equip their leaders, which we hope will empower them all to do the things they have been called to do. We realize disaster relief is not the number one thing on the mind of every church leader every day, but our goal is to make it as simple as possible when something does happen.”
Derick’s journey to ADRN was inspired by a disaster that hit close to home. After their move to Round Rock, he and his wife had begun praying for opportunities to share God’s love in tangible ways. “The next thing we knew,” he says, “A flood happened in our neighborhood.”
Right away, Derick rallied a few men from his church, Celebration Church, to help move possessions out of flooded homes. Those “few men” multiplied into hundreds of volunteers and also laid the groundwork for the ADRN role he now alternates with his job as a firefighter at the Austin Fire Department.
FROM 1909-2009 TEXAS EXPERIENCED NINE HISTORIC DISASTERS
ADRN was founded in 2009 and, since that time, the Central Texas region has experienced nearly 30 major crises, making it the fourth most disaster-prone city in the United States after Houston and New York. But, thanks to ADRN, almost 200 Austin-area churches and thousands of volunteers have been trained to meet the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of those affected by disasters.
Among their many successes, the nonprofit organization collaborated with several groups in the Williamson County Mask Brigade, which provided face masks for health care workers and first responders in the earliest stages of the pandemic. More recently, during winter storm Uri, volunteers distributed water and food to homebound residents.
Collectively, over the past year, ADRN has assisted 932 families and invested nearly $1.8 million to help survivors get back on their feet. They also met the needs of 465 local families impacted by everyday disasters like home fires and floods. Additionally, they provided support, after the fact, to nearly 1,000 individuals who received free clothing, shoes, linens, and more from their Hope Family Thrift Store.
ADRN ‘s Founder and Executive Director Daniel Geraci hopes to expand their reach. The current mission is to extend the same support and resources across the United States and, eventually, worldwide. He recalled, in 2013, when an F5 tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma and adjacent areas, the organization helped churches there launch their own disaster relief program. “Wow, this model works everywhere,” he thought.
ADRN plans to launch the United Disaster Relief Network in March 2022, which will spread ADRN’s model across the U.S. The new network will hold informational meetings in states heavily impacted by disasters; e.g., Louisiana, California, and Florida, followed by training sessions in Austin. “It all began in Austin, Texas, and God is using the network to touch people all over the world,” Derick says.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Click here to partner with ADRN as a church. Derek explains, “We want to help create a preparedness model with every church so we don’t become not complacent; acting like nothing is going to happen. We are going to prepare so if something does happen, we will be able to mobilize quickly and train those who are able to support their community well.”