Grounded in spiritual values, volunteer network is 15,000 strong, growing and responding to worldwide demand for effective help in natural and man-made disasters
by Gail M. Armstrong & Richard Wieland
I go about my daily life, and I look around and see whats going on. I take time to notice. If I see someone who needs help, I take the time to help them.
Jenny Listug Rancho Sante Fe, California
orraine Baritz listened to the beeps of the life-support monitor and looked at the 13-year-old boy who lay motionless before her in the Intensive Care Unit of Boston Childrens Hospital. Four days earlier, a motorcycle accident brought the boy to emergency surgery. During the operation, he slipped into a coma.
His parents paced, waited and, above all, worried.
A mutual friend of the parents, learning of the boys condition, had contacted Baritz the evening of the fourth day. Baritz dropped her plans and drove to the hospital. At 10 p.m. she administered the first of several procedures called assists. By midnight, the boy was resting more easily. By morning, he opened his eyes, awakening from his coma. He began to breathe without life support. Two days later, he left intensive care.
News of the recovery traveled through the hospital, reaching others standing vigil by their own children. A couple with an infant son in a coma sought Baritzs help. Again she answered the call.
The local Boston Peoples Voice newspaper later reported on the result: When Church of Scientology volunteer minister Lorraine Baritz used her spiritual training to revive a 13-year-old motorcycle accident victim from a coma in a prestigious Boston hospital recently, it was considered a miracle.
When she revived a baby from a coma a few days later, it was obvious that there is a workable way to save many lives.
For Baritz, success in helping people is routine.
I know something effective can be done about the pain and suffering in peoples lives, said Baritz. I know I have the ability to help anyone, no matter how hopeless they may feel.
aritz is one of more than 15,000 Scientology Volunteer Ministers, the backbone of an international response network launched in South Africa in 1976. Today the program is found in nations world wide. The volunteers learn a wide range of practical skills grounded in an understanding of the spiritual nature and power of people, and the factors that influence survival.
No matter which skills they learn, however, all Volunteer Ministers, like Baritz, are trained in the most fundamental and widely used tools of their tradethe Scientology assists. The program stresses that anyone can use these simple techniques, developed by Scientology founder
Mr. Hubbard conceived the Volunteer Ministers in the mid-1970s after he observed that crime was rising in direct proportion to the decline of religious influence in society. His research found that only spiritual values were capable of exerting any sort of lasting, positive influence over social ills.
I know something effective can be done about the pain and suffering in peoples lives. I know I have the ability to help anyone, no matter how hopeless they may feel.
Lorraine Baritz, Scientology Volunteer Minister, Boston, Massachusetts
Volunteer Ministers have aided relief efforts in the aftermath of earthquakes from Mexico to Japan, hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, floods and other natural disasters. They have traveled to war zones in Chechnya and Kosovo, hospitals in Rwanda and more sites of strife to help refugees and victims of man-made calamities.
Following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, more than 800 Volunteer Ministers joined the relief efforts at Ground Zero in Manhattan, supporting emergency crews around the clock. (See It Was All About Helping).
Taking Time to Help
he majority of volunteers in the network, like Lorraine Baritz, respond individually to the misfortunes of day-to-day living, being trained in techniques that enable them to help in circumstances from a broken relationship to a child failing in school.
Rancho Santa Fe, California, is a stark contrast to a metropolitan center like Boston or New York. Road signs on this rural landscape with its gated communities, where many residents consider a stable as necessary as a three-car garage, caution drivers to equestrians.
Volunteer Minister Jenny Listug, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, began her Volunteer Minister training after September 11, 2001 and, with intensive work, was on the job by the new year.
I go about my daily life, and I look around and see whats going on. I take time to notice, said Listug, an active supporter of civic and charitable affairs in her community. If I see someone who needs help, I take the time to help them.
On another morning, driving across town, she saw smoke coming from a house and drove to the scene, called for fire trucks, directed traffic and calmed neighbors; she remained on the scene until the fire in the empty structure was out.
Listug has no qualms about stepping in to help in any situation. On other days, she helps anyone who she finds needs itwhether that means perking up a waitress troubled by an argument or providing an assist to a former Olympic gymnast hindered by the pain of an old injury.
I was taught to help thy neighbor from the time I was very young, said Listug, who grew up in Texas in a church-going family. I know a lot of people who have really big hearts, but outside of kind gestures in day-to-day life, a lot of times they really dont know what to do to help. I used to be like that, too. They wonder if theyve done enough, if there isnt something else they can do. I dont wonder now.
The conditions of the volunteers work vary widely.
Churlya Wurfel has offered her help under remote and arduous conditions. She spent weeks in the jungles of Sumatra in 1995 where an earthquake left 1,500 homeless. Wurfel worked with the Red Cross, training hundreds of relief workers to administer assists. When three tsunamis decimated a coastal region of Papau New Guinea in 1998, Wurfel and a team of Volunteer Ministers were airlifted to hastily constructed relief centers, where they helped survivors and also trained other relief crews.
Born in Indonesia and living in Australia most of her life, Wurfel became a Volunteer Minister nearly two decades ago, after her young daughter nearly died in a hospital. Wurfel learned and gave assists to the girl; after seven days, mother and daughter were home.
After that, she said, I promised myself I would share what I knew with many, many people.
I promised myself I would share what I knew with many, many people.
Churlya Wurfel, Scientology Volunteer Minister (right)
ver the years since the Volunteer Minister program was launched, volunteers like Baritz, Listug and Wurfel have worked in relative anonymity. That changed in September 2001, when journalists encountered the Volunteer Ministers at Ground Zero and reported on their efforts in The New York Times and other print, radio and television media. The volunteers also became a topic of discussion in New York fire and police departments and among businesses and families affected by the tragedy.
Since September 11, recognitions of the Volunteer Ministers have contributed to an international demand for their services.
People want the kind of spiritually based, simple solutions the Volunteer Minister program can provide. They want results, said Church of Scientology International spokesperson Luis Gonzales. When they find out they can do something effective to help themselves and others, they immediately want to know all about it.
In response, the Church established a Volunteer Minister website, www.volunteerministers.org, and is sponsoring an international program to train thousands more Volunteer Ministers. A billboard campaign has brought the message, Something CAN be done about it to dozens of major cities throughout the country.
The purpose is not only to connect those in need with the Volunteer Ministers, but to continually expand the volunteer corps, said Gonzales. The program is open to anyone of any creed who wants to help others.
Volunteer Ministers are loosely organized into more than 600 geographical groups at a grass roots level; hotline operators refer callers to the contact person for the group nearest them. A global locator on the networks website also provides contact information for volunteers.
he Volunteer Ministers corps continues to grow, and to respond. When Volcano Nyiragongo erupted in the Congo in January 2002, sending 200-foot-wide rivers of lava flowing through the city of Goma, 150 Volunteer Ministers from that country and neighboring Rwanda mobilized to aid some of the half-million displaced residents.
In eastern Australia, where brush fires raged for weeks at the end of 2001, Volunteer Ministers supported thousands of firefighters, giving more than 700 assists and supplying water, food and other essentials. After the wildfires were extinguished, the volunteers joined the firefighters in a celebratory ticker-tape parade through the heart of Sydney and an awards ceremony in which the premier of New South Wales acknowledged their work.
Most often, however, individual Volunteer Ministers can be found working in their communities, tutoring children in learning skills, guiding wayward adolescents back onto the road to honesty, resolving disputes at work and home, helping associates to better organize their lives, and in countless other ways.
According to Volunteer Ministers, no matter how large or small the task performed, they know they can do something to help and know their help will make a difference.
They say that is what drives them.
Helping others is not just an obligation, but a privilege, said Jenny Listug. What could be more important, and rewarding, than that?
|COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY: Scientology Volunteer Ministers have grown to a network of 15,000 volunteers who respond to natural and man-made disasters in all parts of the world, as well as to the misfortunes of day-to-day life. (From right:) Volunteer Ministers helping residents in Goma, Congo, displaced by rivers of lava from Volcano Nyiragongo in January 2002; aiding refugees in Russia in 2000; bringing cheer to the elderly; supporting firefighters in eastern Australia over weeks of efforts to quell brush fires in December 2001; tutoring students in learning skills.|
|TOOLS FOR EFFECTIVE VOLUNTEERISM|
The fundamental tools for effective volunteerism applied by Scientology Volunteer Ministers are contained in The Scientology Handbookfrom learning skills to conflict resolution to spiritual help for the ill and injured. Illustrations and clear guidelines on how to use the techniques make them easy to learn.
More information on the Scientology religion can be found in What is Scientology?, the most comprehensive reference on the subject ever published.
These books can be purchased through any Church of Scientology. Complimentary copies are available to religious leaders and public officials by writing to the Publications Department, Church of Scientology International, 6331 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, California, 90028, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org