When the glittering ball dropped in Times Square to signify the end of 2013, Tampa Bay Volunteer Minister Program Director Judy Fagerman had quite a bit to reflect on. After leading hundreds of volunteers through a year of events and activities spanning three Florida counties, Fagerman took a moment to recap their adventurous year.
“We are known for our yellow tent, which we bring to fairs and festivals around the area,” said Fagerman, who oversees the program from her post at the Church of Scientology of Tampa. “People are looking for help, for a variety of reasons. Being trained as a Scientology Volunteer Minister is like having a full toolbox for anything that comes up in life. It’s there to be used.”
The tent popped up at the Manatee County Fair, Ybor City’s Fiesta Day, Clearwater’s Winter Wonderland, the Juneteenth "Freedom From Slavery" event St Pete, the Annual Cultural Festival of Ocala, Light Up Ocala, at Blood Drives in both St. Petersburg and Clearwater, at Clearwater’s Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society and for ‘VM Fridays’ at the St. Petersburg Life Improvement Center.
“At the Manatee County Fair earlier this year,” said Fagerman, “we delivered hundreds of assists which is a technology developed by L Ron Hubbard as a tool to help bring people relief from stress, aches, pain, illnesses and injuries as well as physical discomforts.
“One gentleman who worked at the fair, had been having chronic pain in his shoulder for years. He came to us for an assist. Just fifteen minutes into it, he no longer felt that pain. He came back to us the next day to tell us that the assist had been miraculous - the pain had completely stopped and he had slept through the night for the first time in years. He spread the word to fellow workers at the fair and pretty soon we had quite a number of other fair workers wanting to get assists, too.”
“We also make ourselves available for disaster response,” added Fagerman.
This year, Tampa Bay’s Volunteer Ministers went north to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and to assist the victims of the Oklahoma tornados.
“Our first team of nearly 50 Volunteer Ministers arrived in New York to help after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area, ready for anything. They spent hours doing major clean up - tearing down rotting dry wall, ripping up damaged carpet, removing tons of debris from yards etc. One group of Volunteer Ministers made hundreds of sandwiches to feed people. They also delivered assists to first responders and others in need of relief from stress and pain and it was very rewarding to help.
Fagerman has been a Scientologist for 39 years, and has spent the last 12 years as the Director for the Volunteer Ministers here in Florida.
“I grew up in New York. When 9/11 happened, I couldn’t believe it. My husband and I watched the news and we cried. It was as though we could feel the grief of the families of all those who died,” she says. Despite her responsibilities in the telecommunications company she ran with her husband, Fagerman left for New York to help and stayed for a month.
“That experience changed my life as I learned the beauty of doing something effective to help someone,” says Fagerman.
Since then, she led more than 300 Volunteer Ministers in disaster response after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004 and the Florida team that went to Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina the following year. She helped mobilize Volunteer Ministers for Indonesia and other devastated countries after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Haiti in 2010, and Japan in 2011.
And what will 2014 bring? A lot more opportunities to help, says Fagerman.
“We signed another Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Florida for the VMs to help in disasters throughout the State of Florida. The Volunteer Ministers are a part of the Governor's "Volunteer Florida" as Churches of Scientology Disaster Response and have been since 2005.”
Fagerman will also continue to serve on the Pinellas Hillsborough Pasco County Organizations Active in Disaster Board. Other organizations that make up this group include the America Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Emergency Management for all 3 Counties, 2-11 Crisis Center and the Department of Health.
“We have also stepped up to be on the Committee for Emotional and Spiritual Care for Florida VOAD ( Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), and are excited that we can help.”
To find out more about the Volunteer Ministers, or to receive free on-line training in Volunteer Minister techniques, please go to www.volunteerministers.org.
# # #