Emergency Response Team

At Athens First United Methodist Church we believe we have a responsibility to respond to the needs of our community during inclement weather. We currently support Bigger Vision Homeless Shelter should they exceed capacity at their location during emergency weather situations. Bigger Vision will contact the Minister of Missions in the event that there is a need for an overflow shelter. 

There are many opportunities to serve on our Emergency Response Team:

  • Set-up
  • Provide Meals
  • Serve Meals
  • Overnight Host
  • Driving guests to and from AFUMC
  • Clean-up

Emergency Response Policies & Procedures

  • AFUMC will act as an overflow emergency shelter when asked upon during single digit temperatures or emergency weather situations (i.e. hurricanes, severe storms, winter storms.). Opening as an overflow shelter is at the discretion of the Minister of Missions. 
  • Bigger Vision will handle all intake of guests. (Guests must meet Bigger Visions intake criteria.)
    • Families will be cared for through other means. We will reach out to community agencies who are more equipped to support families.
  • The overflow shelter will run in accordance with Bigger Vision’s Policies and Procedures.
    • If a guest leaves the building without permission, they will not be let back in.
    • Smoke breaks will be supervised by shelter hosts. 
    • Lights out will be at 10 p.m.
    • Depending on the situation: 
      • In the morning, guests must wake by 7 a.m. and are required to leave church premises by 8 a.m. unless otherwise noted.
      • The decision to remain open as a shelter will be made by the Minister of Missions and The Bigger Vision. 
    • Dinner and breakfast will be served to guests. 
  • AFUMC Emergency Response Team Volunteers will:
    • Transport guests to and from Bigger Vision in AFUMC vans (only after they have completed the intake process at Bigger Vision).
    • Prepare AFUMC for guests (gather supplies, set up rooms, etc.)
    • Prepare and serve meals to guests (typically dinner and breakfast)
    • Act as overnight hosts (at least 2 males and 2 females- an AFUMC staff member is required to be present and when available, a Facilities Technician will be on the premises.) 
  • Guests will stay on the first floor of AFUMC (in the gym/youth area).
  • Guests are not allowed to wander around the building.
  • Guests will sleep in classrooms on mats provided by Bigger Vision or in the gym depending on the number of guests. 
  • If overflow shelter is open for more than one evening, showers will be made available.
  • When the decision is made to open up as an overflow shelter, Athens-Clarke County Police will be notified so that they can monitor the area.
  • Due to the intake procedures of Bigger Vision, people under the age of 18 can only serve in the shelter with a parent or guardian and must remain with their parent throughout their time serving. 
  • Shelter volunteers will be trained according to these and Bigger Vision’s Policies.
  • Once the overflow shelter ends, AFUMC will not be open as a shelter until the next Emergency Weather situation (when Bigger Vision requests).

If you are interested in serving on our Emergency Response Team or would like to receive more information, please contact Betsy Butler. 

Kimberly Liebowitz |