ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Longtime Southern Baptist Disaster Relief leader Mickey Caison has received the inaugural Spirit Award of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
Caison, who said he was “honored and humbled” by the award, has been in the middle of SBDR since he accepted the role as the ministry’s national director in 1994, a position he would hold for 18 years. Caison continues to serve as a disaster relief recovery coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
“I could not be more pleased that Mickey has been honored in this way,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said. “He has worked tirelessly to serve disaster survivors and Southern Baptist partners throughout the years. He is a great champion for this cause.”
Fritz Wilson, NAMB executive director for disaster relief, praised Caison for the very characteristics for which the award was bestowed. Wilson accepted the reins as SBDR’s national point man from Caison in 2012.
“Mickey has been a leader in not just SBDR but also in the volunteer community and among emergency management across the nation,” Wilson said. “In 2011-12, he served as both chairman and interim director of National VOAD, guiding the organization through a difficult transition. There is no one more deserving in the disaster volunteer community to receive the inaugural National VOAD Spirit Award.”
National VOAD is a nonprofit membership-based group that serves as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle — preparation, response and recovery — to help disaster survivors and their communities. National VOAD, which holds its annual meeting in May, fosters more effective service to people affected by disaster through the cooperation among member groups.
Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 storm, which struck South Carolina in 1989, was Caison’s introduction to SBDR. He had been a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician since 1973 while serving as a pastor for churches in the state’s low country. Caison’s experience as a fire chief and EMT as well as his pastoral role were invaluable in the Hugo response.
That work led to a volunteer role with the South Carolina Baptist Convention as an SBDR coordinator. Caison served in both the 1993 Midwest floods and 1994 Northridge earthquake responses as a “Blue Hat,” the ranking volunteer coordinator in a multi-state SBDR response. His work in those ministry efforts led to the national director’s role.
Caison also has been active in national disaster response leadership, advising both the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and the White House. Caison has served as a National VOAD board member since 1995 and was chairman of the board from 2010-12.
“I’ve been fortunate to be blessed by the Lord to be involved in this ministry,” Caison said. “FEMA has great respect for Southern Baptists because our volunteers are so committed. They make the difference as they live out their faith in Christ in how they serve. It has been my privilege to serve with them.”
Volunteer recognition was on the agenda at the annual SBDR Round Table, Aug. 12-15 at Ponderosa Retreat and Conference Center in Colorado. In addition to planning and networking, state and national leaders commended the work of individuals who have contributed to disaster relief ministry over the past year.
This year’s Robert E. Dixon Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Jim Parrish of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Joel Phillips Outstanding Service Awards were presented to Sarah Jo Trimble of the Florida Baptist Convention and John Lucas of the Kansas/Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.
Distinguished Service Award recipients were Marvin Corbin, Florida Baptist Convention; K. Ray Helms, Tennessee Baptist Convention; Harold Patterson, Texas Baptist Men; Steve Reavis and Steve Stancil, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; and Evangeline Yacuk, Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention.
Much of Caison’s time now is spent in New York where he directs the Hurricane Sandy Rebuild efforts in the region, including arrangements for college dorm housing for Sandy Rebuild volunteers.
“We need more volunteers,” Caison said. “There is still much work and ministry to be done.”
To learn more about Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, visit namb.net/disaster-relief.
Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).