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New York retiree serves as UCC Partner in Service

Monday, February 27, 2017

ToshRich Tosh of Ithaca, N.Y., is one of four United Church of Christ Partners in Service volunteers who serve UCC Disaster Ministries, of 28 currently serving in various ministries.  His current assignment is in Volusia County, Fla., assisting early recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

The UCC's Partners in Service program helps increase the service capacity of the partner host organizations and provides leadership development and the opportunity for volunteers to use gifts and skills in a wide variety of settings. Volunteers serve full time for periods of one to 12 months with a host and participate in networking activities with other Partners in Service volunteers. The program is open for adults of all ages.

UCC Disaster Ministries provides long-term recovery assistance following natural and technology-caused disasters around the world, including in the United States. Learn more at

Here is more about Rich:

Rich's wife Beth died of cancer just a couple of years after his retirement following 35 years of ordained ministry. 

"I entered the lonely desert of grief," he said. "Then, at the oasis of General Synod, I found Alan Coe, UCC Director of Disaster Ministries in New Orleans. He invited me to engage with people where they lived, and I was assigned to supervise volunteers who came to New Orleans to help survivors of Katrina rebuild their homes and their lives."

Rich has an empathy for disaster survivors honed by his own experience living and ministering through the Flood of 1997 in Grand Forks, N.D.

"We lost half our home to the rising waters of the Red River of the North,” he said. “I had experienced the power of people who visited me in my emptiness and the value of church people volunteering together. The community of the church and meaning of the gospel were made real as I worked to rebuild my home and recover my faith."

He volunteered with Partners in Service two winters in New Orleans. Last winter he spent three months in Taylor, Texas, assisting flood recovery. Now he is in Volusia County, Fla., where he and fellow Partner in Service Betzi Yungclas of Dallas, Texas, are assisting early recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

UCC Disaster Ministries is partnering with VIND (Volusia Interfaith/Action Networking in Disaster), which is the acting Long-Term Recovery Group for Volusia County following Hurricane Matthew's wind and rain on the east coast of Florida in October 2016. 

“In the next couple of months, we will be requesting groups of weekly volunteers to come to help rebuild homes damaged by Matthew," Rich said.

And for people who have a month or more to volunteer, Rich invites consideration of answering the call to become a Partner in Service. 

“Committing your time and energy to helping others in all parts of the country and all types of living situations and economic conditions will add to the lives of others and to your life and faith enrichment,” he said.

Check out the opportunities for involvement at

Editor’s Note: Rich maintains his membership at – and his ordination status through - First Congregational Church in Greene, N.Y.  In Ithaca, he participates with St. James AME Zion Church.

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