INSPIRITUS Gains Nationally Recognized Disaster Response Expert Sherry Buresh, Just In Time For Devastating Hurricane Season.



Currently, Inspiritus is responding to Hurricane Dorian in the state of North Carolina. We have increased our team and capacity and have hired Sherry Buresh as our Director of Disaster Response. 

We are thrilled to welcome Sherry Buresh to our team to lead this effort. Sherry brings her extensive experience in leading countless disaster responses, including:

  • Hurricane Katrina

  • Hurricane Harvey

  • Hurricane Irma

  • Hurricane Maria

  • Pilger, Nebraska Tornadoes

  • Nashville, Tennessee Floods

  • Gatlinburg, Tennessee Fires

  • Nepal Earthquake

Sherry's career in disaster relief began following Hurricane Katrina, when she deployed a team of 60 volunteers to a base called Camp Victor at Christus Victor Lutheran Church,Ocean Springs, MS, where she worked alongside the Rev. Dr. P. Morgan Gordy, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Nashville, TN.

Sherry was on the job with Inspiritus for three days when we first got wind of Hurricane Dorian. She rapidly put together a plan with little to no resources, and set us in motion to prepare to respond. Our long-term recovery staff were already deployed along the Georgia coast and in South Georgia, helping homeowners who have yet to recover from Hurricane Irma and Michael. Sherry was especially concerned about how Hurricane Dorian might impact those vulnerable homes.

“No two disasters are alike. Everything can change in a split second, and you have to tap into the best resources you have at any given moment,” says Sherry.

With her leading the way, Inspiritus quickly established a Dorian Response lead volunteer team, ready to deploy and setup a volunteer base along the Georgia coast, if needed. As Dorian made its slow journey along the southeastern US coastline, Sherry had staff calling on our clients all along the coast, preparing them for the storm and checking on them the morning after. We were relieved to learn our clients were safe from additional damages.

However, our attention quickly shifted to the North Carolina coast, where Ocracoke Island suffered 6-8 foot storm surges and hundreds of homes in the region were damaged. Many families impacted by Dorian in North Carolina are facing a devastating loss of hope right now, especially those who have yet to recover from last year's Hurricane Florence.

“It’s the combination of partners which matters. The community effort of all showing one can take care of a disaster alone. It takes a village, as they say. I follow my gut instincts and thankfully, have built a good network and loving partnerships all over the world,” says Sherry.

Right now, Sherry and her team are operating a base camp along the North Carolina coast, and have a thick binder full of homes in need. Most of these homeowners are low-to-no income women or men with disabilities, many are senior citizens who are alone, and all are suffering exposure to unhealthy living situations due to mold and water damage that grows worse each week.

When Sherry is not deployed or training partner groups, you will find her enthusiastically sharing her “inspirational stories of lives helped and transformed during crisis.” She and her husband, also an emergency responder, have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
Inspiritus is grateful to have Sherry guiding our teams through our Dorian Response efforts, especially with more inclement weather, and hurricanes on the horizon.

Interesting read: Sherry was featured in Popular Mechanics by a journalist who volunteered with her after Hurricane Irma and Maria disaster response in the Virgin Islands. Warning: This article may inspire you to volunteer with Sherry in our next Inspiritus disaster response. Click here to read.

Inspiritus needs donations to help us respond to this latest disaster. Donate here and select disaster response to direct your funds specifically to our disaster.

If you’d like to volunteer with Inspiritus and our response team-fill out our short application here

Give Hope

Hurricane Dorian is being reported as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever observed. It’s a catastrophic storm and expected to hit our coastal communities this week. Life-threatening storm surges could devastate homes still in desperate need of help. Homes like the one owned by Ethel, a disabled elderly woman living in Brunswick, GA. Inspiritus met Ethel last year, when our long-term disaster recovery teams were helping those in the area with home repairs. Ethel is an elderly, domestic violence survivor who was thrilled to move into her own home back in 2017.

“It was like God gave me a gift I was praying was heaven,” says Ethel.

Unfortunately, Hurricane Irma descended upon her home and destroyed her roof. As a result, she was forced to live outside on to her porch. “I’ve been without water for almost a year. I was drinking off the roof with buckets on the side to take a bath and wash my dishes...” My lights got cut off too, and I knew I couldn’t afford to pay it, so I took that barrel there and that wood and chopped it up, and I cooked my food. I did it in order to survive.” says Ethel

Following Hurricane Irma, Ethel’s home quickly became infected with mold and mildew. Poor living-conditions made her sick with pneumonia, as well as, another mold-related lung infection.

“I’m not able to work, I can’t even go to the doctor. I got really sick, between the mildew in this house and the drinking the water I got...I had another bucket, a tin tub, to get water to drink, I know that made me sick, too, but I had to live. That was my life. I’m living the best way I can. God help me.” says Ethel.

Inspiritus repaired Ethel’s roof, but there’s still so much more to be done to make her home liveable. "If it wasn’t for Inspiritus, I would still be in this situation. ” says Ethel.

Ethel’s home may not be able to withstand more damage from another hurricane. Brunswick is located on a harbor of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 40 mi (60 km) north of Florida and 80 mi (130 km) south of South Carolina. This makes it right in Hurricane Dorian’s projected path. As of Labor Day, mandatory evacuations were put into effect for Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Inspiritus needs donations to help us respond to this latest disaster. Donate here to Inspiritus’ disaster recovery work today to provide support and give hope to these vulnerable communities desperately in need of our help. Select disaster response to direct your funds specifically to our disaster.

Our prayers are with Ethel and everyone in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Family Intervention Services: Deborah Battle Celebrates 10 Years with LSG

LSG congratulates FIS' Deborah Battle on 10 years with the agency, and looks forward to many more! When Deborah Battle obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, she was unsure of the direction she would go in so she stayed at her alma mater working in the Financial Aid Office immediately after college. Unbeknownst to Deborah, her best friend submitted her resume to NYC’s Child Welfare Administration where she worked for five short months. Unhappy with the idea of removing children from their homes, Deborah decided to go work for Little Flower Children’s Services where she quickly worked her way up to a supervising position. During her eight years at Little Flower Children’s Services, Deborah felt like she was doing more of helping families rather than disrupting them. This fulfillment made it hard for Deborah to depart when her family decided to move to Georgia.

While working for Department of Family and Children Services in the Foster Care division, Deborah met Kathy Sullivan who was the Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) Foster Care Supervisor at the time. Sullivan took note of Deborah’s superior case management skills and hired her on October 1, 2001. Foster Care has grown tremendously since Deborah started in 2001. The staff was much smaller, there were only three case managers and a supervisor and there were no satellite offices. In the ten years that Deborah has been with LSG she has served as a case manager, lead case manager, and recruiter, and has done agency intake as well as home study writing and more recently a trainer. Wearing many hats has been something that Deborah has come to appreciate, citing it as a way for her to learn so much and a way to never get bored here at LSG.

When asked what her plans with LSG were for the next decade, she replied “I’d like to continue to do training and working with FIS. I enjoy what I do, but eventually I’d like to be out of the ‘field’ altogether. I’m getting to old for the all of the driving.” She also believes that LSG is a Blessed agency and believes in the mission. She also added, “I am comfortable here; I love the people that I work with too. Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on something when others leave, but then when I get to the see a child happy, healthy and progressing after they have been with and LSG home, the reward is immeasurable”.

Deborah has been an exceptional asset to Lutheran Services of Georgia and we congratulate her on 10 years of service with the agency and wish her many more pleasant years to come.

Foster Care: LSG Bids Farewell to 10-Year Employee

Foster Care case manager Kim Welsh begins new career as a nurse, but won't forget her coworkers or clients A bittersweet farewell is in order as Lutheran Services of Georgia’s Specialized Foster Care Program says goodbye to Kimberley Welsh, who has served as a case worker with LSG for almost 10 years. Kim has been involved in social services for more than 15 years, working with the homeless, medically fragile and teenage mothers, to name a few. Starting in New York City, Kim came to Lutheran Services in March of 2002 after working for the Department of Family and Children Services

Kim attributes her dedication to social work to the children she has encountered over the years. One story in particular that will forever remain in her memory is the story of a brother and sister. Since leaving foster care, the sister has had the opportunity to study abroad and will be finishing college soon, while her brother, who is mentally challenged, is doing well in a home for adult care.

“You hardly get to see the results of the work you put in so it was nice to find out they are one of those success stories you dream about as a young social worker,” Kim says.

It was not an easy thing for Kim to learn, but her tenure here at LSG has taught her that as much as you want to help someone, there is only so much you can do to impact the lives of others.

As a person who prides herself on being passionate about seeing results with her clients, Kim plans to remain faithful to serving others – except now it will be done in a different form. As she changes careers to become a Registered Nurse atPiedmontHospital, Kim plans to keep a close relationship with LSG and share her medical expertise. Kim will miss the close-knit family that exists at LSG and the fun times she has had, but will miss her clients and foster parents most of all.

Kim hopes to leave behind a legacy of her motivation and wishes everyone at LSG many more great years of success. On behalf of Specialized Foster Care, we congratulate Kim on her new journey.

Farewell, Kimberley Welsh!

From "Doughnut Dollie" to Refugee Advocate - LSG Says Goodbye to 30-Year Staff Member, Kay Trendell

Today marks the beginning of a new journey for Refugee Services Director Kay Trendell, who will be retiring from Lutheran Services of Georgia after 30 years of service. To honor her immeasurable contributions to the agency, we look back on the road that led Kay to LSG – a road that will continue to lead her to new experiences and adventures in the years to come. In her senior year at the University of Arkansas, Kay Trendell made a decision that would send her on path of service that continues to today. She heard about a Red Cross called Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas, and in 1967, she began her first tour of duty inVietnam.  While working as a “Doughnut Dollie,” Kay saw first hand in the streets of Saigon the plight of refugees as the Vietnamese who had fled to the city for safety tried to scratch out a living on the sidewalks of the city.

After two tours of duty in Vietnam, Kay decided to take a break and travel to Europe. She’d had enough of aircraft, so she booked a ticket on a freighter, which is where she met a young merchant seaman named Harry Trendell.  Seven months later they were married and came to Atlanta, where Kay accepted a position with the YWCA.

But Kay’s experience in Vietnam continued to call her, and in 1980 she volunteered to help a local agency resettle refugees.  Then she heard about a new agency that was looking for staff for its refugee resettlement program, and in 1982, Kay joined Lutheran Ministries of Georgia.  For the next 16 years, Kay worked in refugee employment, and in 1998 was named Director of Refugee Services, the position she holds today with Lutheran Services of Georgia.

Working with refugees brought Kay’s life full circle, from first encountering those displaced by the Vietnam War in their home country, to then helping them to rebuild their lives here in Atlanta.  She has heard many stories of incredible suffering, and marveled at the strength of the human spirit that helps them conquer it and move ahead.  She has seen the sacrifices parents made to come here for the sake of their children, and then rejoiced as the children flourished. She has experienced moments of grace with refugees who barely had any food in the house, but would never let a guest go without a bite to eat.

Kay is bidding LSG farewell today, but her legacy will continue on through the more than 16,000 refugees whose lives were changed because of her decision to go to Vietnam to serve her country.  Kay and Harry, we wish you the best in retirement!

FACES: Reflections on the LSG Difference

FACES State Program Director Ryan Whitmire examines the motivations for his work and why Lutheran Services of Georgia stands out from the crowd Since the Facilitating, Advocacy, Care, Education, & Shelter (FACES) program for placing adults with developmental disabilities in loving homes first started, it has been our mission to create meaningful family relationships for the people we serve.  This philosophy is what sets LSG apart from many organizations that provide supports to people with developmental disabilities.

When I first started working for LSG in December 2006, it was clear that LSG was different.  Our meetings were focused on the individuals we serve and the matching process to find the perfect family fit family for referrals.  It was a pleasant transition from looking at potential placements based on an open bed and projected growth goals.

Over the last 10 years, FACES has successfully created real families and homes for the individuals we serve.  Our Host Home providers (caregivers) are special people.  They truly care about the individual and strive to assist the people we serve to reach their personal goals and desires.

Due to Medicaid funding issues, there are thousands of people in need of services, but have no funding.  One way you can help is to get involved with the “unlock the waiting lists” campaign.  With your help, people in need will get the funding and supports they need to start being apart of a new family.

Ryan Whitmire State Program Manager of FACES

Adoption: Lutheran Teachings Guide Us to Serve

We in the LSG adoption program recognize the journey of adoption for both the family and the children who are adopted. We also recognize it is a privilege to find a permanent home for a waiting child. Adoption is one of the many missions of this agency serving and engaging the community by bringing hope, healing and strength to people in need. This past year, we successfully transitioned all the families and the children from two other agencies to our adoption program who unfortunately had to close their doors due to budget cuts and the economy. In some cases, we accomplished this awesome task with no financial support with this transition. We are proud to say over this past year, we found “forever families” for 35 children in foster care which included seven sibling groups of 2, one sibling group of 3 and one sibling group of 4 children. We found a “forever family” for 8 infants in our cooperative open infant domestic adoption program and has facilitated ongoing connections between the adoptive families and the birth families. In spite of these accomplishments, we know that the work continues on because the need is so great for the hope, healing and strength that we at LSG provide.