“Something Can be done about it!” is the motto of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers.
It is used to rally troops or galvanize a group to overcome obstacles. It can be deployed to inspire a community to take action when faced with a devastating catastrophe.
As Hurricane Irma hammered Caribbean islands, savaged the north coast of Cuba and aimed historic Category 4 and 5 gales at Florida, one group in Clearwater put out its own call to action.
For decades, Church of Scientology members have banded together as Volunteer Ministers under a motto that allows no ambiguity: “Something can be done about it.” After terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Volunteer Ministers were among the first responders to the human misery unfolding in Manhattan. Ditto after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. Ditto after earthquakes flattened broad areas of Haiti and Nepal.
In scores of other disasters across the globe the common element is the arrival of squads of Volunteer Ministers in their eye-catching yellow T-shirts. The VMs will do whatever is necessary to alleviate suffering, shore up community resources and be the compassionate caregivers in the midst of unbelievable chaos.
Why? Scientology is a religion with a multitude of aspects, but the key to the philosophy created by Founder L. Ron Hubbard is encoded in a single word: Survival. Survival for each individual, each family, each community, all of humanity, all creatures. Survival for the physical and spiritual universes.
For decades, Church of Scientology members have banded together as Volunteer Ministers under a motto that allows no ambiguity: “Something can be done about it.”
With survival as their standard, every Scientologist is compelled to help fellow humans when the worst events threaten individuals and entire communities. And nowhere is that dedication more apparent than in Florida, where the community of Clearwater is the spiritual headquarters of the religion.
The Clearwater Church has a proud history of being a good citizen—and that’s exemplified by the many, many projects undertaken by Scientologists to help the Tampa Bay area. Do you need a bit of “can do” to weave together dozens of nonprofits to improve their missions? Scientologists formed a large Charity Coalition. When Clearwater officials could no longer afford a service facility in a minority community, it was the Church that opened its heart and pocketbook to rebuild the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. Want to do something to combat drugs or human rights abuses? Scientologists are manning the ramparts.
Again, all of the Church of Scientology projects in Clearwater have one underlying principle: Survival for people and the community. Put another way, Scientologists will go to any lengths so that all citizens can flourish and prosper.
So it was during the second week of September that hundreds of Volunteer Ministers began preparing for the looming disaster of Hurricane Irma. Thousands of Scientologists already live in the Tampa Bay region, and many of them donned their yellow T-shirts and asked, “What is needed and wanted?” Organized efforts also began preparing from Scientology Churches in cities such as Miami, another likely Irma target.
The Volunteer Ministers cooked meals, found shelters, purchased sleeping bags, brought in 49 large truckloads of food, purchased massive amounts of bottled water, cleared tons of debris, cleaned up Clearwater Beach and boarded up storefronts. Scientologists were quick to aid the churches of other religions. The Volunteer Ministers turned no one away.
As the cover story in this issue of Freedom records: “In all, over 21,000 volunteer hours later, the Scientology VMs’ impact would be felt from Miami to Hillsborough, echoing the VMs’ motto that something can be done about any crisis.”
People noticed—and were inspired by the VMs. “All I saw were church members cleaning the roads, cleaning people’s property, taking care of them and even feeding them,” said Frank Chicollo from the veterans assistance group Vet 2 Vet Reconnect.
And Wade Clark, a community leader from Clearwater’s North Greenwood neighborhood, said: “What the Church is doing is awesome. This is really community service and you guys are showing by example your concepts of your religion. I have to give it to you guys for your application. You’re coming out here and really showing us what you believe in.”
The evidence of the dedication, tenaciousness and innovation of the Volunteer Ministers is recorded in this issue of Freedom.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area, you likely have seen the yellow-shirted VMs. They’re proof that something can be done about it—even if “it” is the destruction caused by a massive hurricane.