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OA ReliefCorps helps heal Louisiana after historic flooding

Kyle Hoffmann     September 26, 2016     OA Today

Thousands of Americans have seen their neighborhoods submerged, their towns decimated and their homes lost. Record flooding in Louisiana created the largest disaster since Superstorm Sandy and the worst to hit the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina. Seeing the devastation, Arrowmen from across the nation rallied to come to the aid of those affected by the flooding through the coordinated effort of the OA ReliefCorps.

The OA ReliefCorps is an effort conducted by the Southern Region of the Order of the Arrow whenever major disaster strikes the region. It was first called into action in 2011 after tornadoes ravaged parts of Alabama, then again in 2013 to Oklahoma and last year to South Carolina. In its fourth installment, this time as Operation Louisiana Relief, the program has faced its most daunting challenge yet - helping to heal the worst disaster this country has faced since Sandy in October 2012.

For Andy Chapman, the Southern Region OA Chairman and a Louisiana native, this disaster struck very close to home. With his family and loved ones being from the affected area, these victims were not just faces on a television screen, these were people he cared about. As a lifelong Scout hearing about this disaster, he remembered that “it is written right into our Oath, to help other people at all times.” He knew that help was needed for those in the affected area and understood that it is only right for Scouts and Arrowmen to make themselves a part of the relief effort. After coordinating with Jeff Sedlacek, the Southern Region Chief, they tasked Section SR-1A to activate OA ReliefCorps: Operation Louisiana Relief.

Thus, the OA ReliefCorps was authorized and mobilized to serve Louisiana in its fourth installment. Fortunately, the OA ReliefCorps met the challenge of serving Louisiana quicker than any challenge before due to the help of the Southern Region OA communications team. Chapman remarked that they were able to craft logos and written content in as little as twenty-four hours. This speed gave the effort more time to get off the ground and begin its service.

How exactly though has the OA ReliefCorps been serving Louisiana? Their two-pronged approach consists of both encouraging lodges to perform service projects (such as a resource drive collecting cleaning supplies for victims) and a fundraising component where patches are sold and the proceeds go to victims. Lodges can be a part of this effort by creating their own service project. At the same time, they can help with fundraising efforts by either promoting the purchase of OA ReliefCorps patches or through buying patches in bulk and reselling to the lodge’s membership. Any lodge can help, even those outside of the Southern Region.

As Arrowmen, we are called to cheerfully serve others. The people of Louisiana, its men and women, its families and its Scouting community are calling upon us for service. As Sedlacek notes, this effort is “important because it’s what the OA is all about - cheerful service and helping others”. Times like these are where we put our Obligation to the test. How will you fulfill it? Contact your lodge leadership and see how you can be a part of healing Louisiana

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