NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 3, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus applauds the government decision that churches and other houses of worship are now eligible to receive disaster relief funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The decision, which overturned a longstanding rule barring such religious institutions from receiving FEMA aid, allows houses of worship damaged since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas to now receive money to help rebuild.
"Having stepped into the breach to help meet the great needs of the affected communities, we welcome the significance of FEMA's decision," said Knights CEO Carl Anderson. "The destruction due to the flooding and hurricanes is of such a magnitude that the government must help in the response."
The Knights of Columbus has given $1.4 million to repair or help rebuild churches that were destroyed or badly damaged in the late summer hurricanes that assaulted Texas, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Knights of Columbus Charities raised $3.8 million for disaster relief in the months following the disasters. More than $720,000 was used to pay for food, water and other critical supplies in the immediate aftermath of the hurricanes. On a local level, many Knights took the initiative to rescue those stranded by rising waters and help neighbors in a variety of ways.
The Knights have also earmarked a significant amount of money for upcoming church repair efforts in Puerto Rico. The Knights earlier donated $100,000 to the Archdiocese of San Juan and provided generators, food, water and other necessities to aid relief efforts.
Church repair has been a key component of Knights' relief efforts in the past. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the New Orleans area in 2005, the K of C contributed $6.7 million to various dioceses to help rebuild the Catholic infrastructure in the area, aiding in the repair of schools, churches and other buildings.
"Help from both the government and the non-profit sector in the restoring of churches and other spaces dedicated to religious activities will send an important signal that these communities are coming back, that the spirit of the people is alive and well," said Anderson. "That spirit is also nourished by the many charitable and social services that these houses of worship provide."
The K of C was founded in 1882 by Venerable Father Michael McGivney, a parish priest, in New Haven, Connecticut. The organization was formed to provide charitable outreach and care for the financial well-being of Catholic families, focusing on the protection of widows and orphans. It has grown to include 1.9 million members worldwide.
The Knights set a new all-time record for charitable donations in 2016, with more than $177.5 million in donations and more than 75 million hours of service valued at $1.8 billion.
SOURCE Knights of Columbus