Gina Lynch, a member of the First Congregational Church of Brimfield, was recently presented with an unsung heroine award by the state Commission on the Status of Women for her work in transforming the church into a tornado relief center following the June 1st tornado. The awards are decided by the Commission with help from state legislators.
“Gina’s efforts can be credited with providing invaluable support to families who were hit by this unprecedented force of nature,” said state Rep. Todd Smola, who nominated Lynch for recognition by the House. “Not only did she provide tangible support to her community, but emotional support as well. She epitomizes what it means to be an Unsung Heroine.”
“This nomination is a great honor and a fitting tribute to Gina,” said state Sen. Stephen Brewer, who nominated Lynch for this recognition in the Senate. “The devastation caused by the June 2011 tornado was unprecedented. While no one could prepare for the physical, emotional and financial impact of that event, Gina’s efforts made everyone feel a little more secure. She was a beacon of hope and a lifeline for many residents in Western Massachusetts during that time and truly distinguished herself not only as a wonderfully giving individual, but an undeniable asset to her community.”
Lynch is the Director of the Brimfield Senior Center. Her husband, Ian Lynch, is pastor at First Church. Read more on their efforts immediately after the storm here.
An update from the Rev. Don Remick, co-chair, Disaster Resource Team of the MA Conference, UCC
We are approaching the first year anniversary of the devastating tornado that tore a scar through the center of our state. Long term recovery often takes at least two years just to get folks back into homes, though the scar in the psyche and soul lasts much longer. Long Term Recovery Groups have been evolving since the earliest days following the storm. We are continuing to support their efforts.
You have helped. We received over $115,000 in gifts from our MACUCC churches.
We have allocated nearly two-thirds of that ($74,932.58) to help the Long Term Recovery Groups as they seek to help with the unmet needs of our most vulnerable populations. We have allocated $2,000 of that to assist a Conference sponsored youth mission trip this summer. We are working with FEMA and the LTRG's as they continue to budget their needs and their existing sources of funding.
We have allocated another quarter of the donations($28,819.84) for local church recovery. So far we have disbursed $16,500 for trauma and spiritual care training to help our churches serve and support their own congregation and their communities.
The remaining funds (approx 10%, or $11,527.94) have been allocated to support our pastors who have been at the core of the damage as well as the recovery efforts. Many of them have been caring for their own churches and congregations while also overseeing long term recovery efforts. So far we have disbursed $4,000 for renewal, rest and recovery programs.
The thanks of many, many folks go out to all of you who are bringing the love of God to those who are traveling a long road.
NOTE: The clean-up effort in Brimfield continues, and volunteers are needed. Please read this Mission & Justice blog post for more information.