• Case Managers Working to Help Hundreds of Individuals Impacted by Tornado

    GAYLORD, MICH. – One full time Disaster Case Manager (DCM) and two part time DCM’s are actively working to provide support and resources for Gaylord residents impacted by the May 20 tornado. The DCM’s come from a diverse background of experiences and will be serving the community for six months. In addition to the DCMs, a construction manager has joined the team to support recovery efforts. 

    “The community response generated so far is the catalyst to the next phase of recovery. The collaboration between the nonprofits, local businesses, and neighbors will ensure the community of Gaylord will come back stronger than before,” said Katie Vokal, DCM Supervisor.  “DCM's will assist survivors with local, state, and federal resources to help them recover. Survivors are not alone and are encouraged to connect with the long-term recovery group to feel supported.”

    The DCM’s goals are to assist and guide individuals through the rebuilding journey. Working closely with the construction manager to assess homeowner needs, remediation completeness, and develop plans. One of the DCM’s is Christine “Chris” Czajkowski. Chris has been a staple in the human service community in Otsego County for 5 years, serving as the face of the Refuge. The Refuge serves the homeless community in Otsego County. “It seemed like a natural transition for me to help in this temporary role, since I am working with many of the homeless tornado survivors already. I am looking forward to watching these individuals recover and it has been one of the biggest honors to serve them during this unimaginable crisis.”

    DCMs will be available to help people apply for SBA loans and be their advocates, providing both emotional encouragement and tangible resources.

    “Through witnessing, and being in the storm’s path firsthand, I am grateful to have been able to walk away unscathed. Some were not so lucky in a multitude of ways. I was able to be on the ground hours after the storm hit, organizing with local and state organizations to provide relief efforts. I have felt called to help folks displaced by the tornado receive the long-term care they need along their journey of recovery, said DCM, Cameron Stefanski. “I look forward to helping folks in the community navigate the many intricacies in the aftermath of disaster. If you or anyone you know was impacted by the storm, let's connect! And, if anything through this work, my goal is to bring a little kindness, hope, and love back into Gaylord.”

    The case management team and construction manager will work under the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) via a grant funded by the Otsego Community Foundation (OCF). The three case managers will work out of the Otsego County United Way (OCUW) office at 116 E. 5th St., Gaylord.

    DCM, Staci Brown said, “I felt compelled to apply for this job as soon as I saw it! Our awesome community has stepped up in many ways so far, and I knew there was more to do. I have seen misinformation out there about ‘who was given what’ after the tornado, and I want the community to have accurate information moving forward. Case managers are here to listen to survivors' needs and help coordinate funds, construction, volunteers, or other household needs. There is a specific process to follow, but when you call us, we will take you through each step and I look forward to helping the community.”

    If you are a survivor and need to schedule an appointment with a DCM, please call the OCUW at 989.732.8929 and press 1.