WARSAW — Joshua Varab always seemed to find himself drawn to the humanities. At Bethel College he graduated with a degree in intercultural studies.
Residing in Elkhart where he was born and raised, he found work with a local nonprofit organization for a year before discovering an exciting opportunity in Warsaw.
Last summer he began his position at the World Compassion Network as the disaster relief coordinator. With this organization Varab works to provide relief ministry to groups both domestic and international who have been affected by a natural disaster. “The goal is to help victims of a natural disaster by providing support and strengthening the local church or ministry,” Varab stated.
As soon as a disaster occurs, Varab and the team immediately get in touch with previous contacts or local churches or ministries to see what they need. “We want the closest and most efficient relationship with the community,” he explained. When coming to the area for an initial assessment of the disaster, the community is provided with necessities including nonperishable food items, hygiene basics, clothing, cleaning supplies, tools and even financial resources. For Varab it’s about “providing those items and providing that strength they need.”
When it comes to international assistance, sending supplies can get a bit trickier. It takes significantly longer to get necessities sent and, by the time they get there, the community may not need those items anymore. For this reason they tend to offer financial resources and bring money to purchase what the community needs from the local areas, such as with his trip to Guatemala.
Guatemala was Varab’s first international relief response. He was able to visit refugee camps, clinics, displaced villages, Red Cross operations and out of the way towns that were affected by the volcanic eruption but not destroyed. While there he worked out partnerships with local organizations to ensure the disaster victims are receiving the assistance they need. “No two disasters are ever the same,” he explained. “It’s never a routine schedule when a disaster happens.”
Following the assessment and the return home, Varab continues communication with those organizations. Just as important as the initial assessment, he describes how his job is to “maintain the relationship and continue to provide support as needed.” In his position the first relief efforts he was able to be a part of was in Texas after the hurricane. Ultimately he goes on to explain that, “The goal is for them to not need us anymore.”
When no disasters are currently occurring, he works on development and fundraising. Varab spends his time volunteering to speak at local churches and ministries, maintaining the equipment and ensuring the warehouse is stocked with all necessities when a disaster strikes. Working toward “getting more partnerships or being proactive in reacting to a disaster” helps Varab and the rest of WCN to react as quickly as possible when needed.
Varab describes himself as a people person, “I thoroughly love community engagement. So many people want to get involved and have the heart to get involved but don’t know how.” He enjoys helping to train and recruit new volunteers. His new position also gives him “the ability to really show love when people need help the most.”
When Varab isn’t immersed in his work in Kosciusko County he enjoys being a musician and part-time drum instructor for schools and independent national groups. His love for drumming began at the age of 10 and has not lessened since.
He laughed, “Community service and drumming — that’s me in a nutshell.”