Service International began in 1985 as a support agency for missionaries and other charitable organizations, but its focus took a critical turn in summer 1993. Our headquarters were submerged in torrents of filthy floodwater during the Great Flood of ’93, which wreaked disaster in the Chesterfield Valley of Missouri and throughout the Midwest. SI, along with hundreds of other businesses and individuals, had to decide: Let the disaster destroy us, or work to survive and rebuild.
SI chose to survive and rebuild. Our founder, Jeff Perry, was appointed to the Mayor’s Task Force on disaster recovery, and we accepted the challenge of spearheading the clean-up effort. During those months of restoration, SI coordinated over 8,000 volunteers and provided $350,000 in resources to help clean up and rebuild the Valley, assisting each business and individual who asked.
Today, our valley is booming! Commercial and residential property in Chesterfield is a valuable commodity. Many new homes have been built and several large corporations have set up operations in this fully recovered area.
That was only the beginning for SI and its volunteer network. With the experience and expertise gained from this personal disaster, SI now reaches into devastated communities around the world with leadership training, volunteer coordination, materials, supplies, and hands-on rebuilding.
Service International helps people in spiritual, physical, and situational crises. Our programs are unique and our follow-through is unparalleled.
When disaster strikes, government and relief organizations converge on the scene with food, water, and other necessary supplies. While SI also provides immediate disaster relief, our focus is on complete, long-term recovery. Our primary goal is to make each community we serve capable of continuing its own restoration program long after we have gone. In order to accomplish that task, we train residents and local authorities in volunteer and material coordination as well as reconstruction techniques.
The communities that SI helps end up better than they were before their catastrophe. Natural disaster is an equal opportunity destroyer, and recovery must also be equal opportunity. Racial, religious, and social barriers come crashing down as entire communities pull together for survival. The benefits of this kind of recovery will last for generations!
As well as providing disaster relief services, SI has partnered with other organizations in a variety of humanitarian projects: receiving donations of winter coats for the needy; serving nutritious summertime lunches to St. Louis school children; providing food supplies and support for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day meals for the homeless; and providing logistical support for Give Kids A Smile, a project which donates free dental care to underprivileged children across the nation.
For nearly 20 years, Service International has been a force in the restoration of communities stricken by wars and natural disasters at home and abroad.
We provide what’s needed most when it’s needed: food, water, and essential supplies for immediate needs; volunteers, tools, equipment, and materials for rebuilding; and skilled medical and dental professionals to bring health and strength. But the greatest and most enduring commodity SI provides is hope. Simply put, Service International is not just about rebuilding houses — we are also about rebuilding lives.
With the hands-on experience gained in the recovery efforts in Chesterfield, Missouri, after the flood of 1993, Service International developed a model to organize and equip communities and volunteers for restoration. SI has used this model in recovery efforts in Kinston, North Carolina; Falmouth, Kentucky; Victoria, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Arcadia and Pensacola, Florida. Many of these areas are now fully recovered from the disaster that struck their region.