World Renew has appointed Bob Laarman as director of Disaster Response Services (DRS), its program for responding to natural disasters in North America. He will officially begin his new role on October 3.
Laarman will draw from the variety of skills and experiences gained through nearly 30 years with World Renew in addition to other roles in mission work. “When my wife and I were first married in 1983, we decided that we wanted to spend our first year of marriage in some sort of dedicated ministry,” Laarman said. “We found a year-long internship in Honduras and came back [home] eight years later.” Ever since, mission work has been part of their lives.
Laarman participated in World Renew’s (then CRWRC) initial program implementation in Ecuador. He responded to a volcanic eruption in Colombia and to Hurricane Andrew in Miami, Fla., and worked as volunteer coordinator and self-help program manager with Home Repair Services of Kent County in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1998 he returned to World Renew, holding positions in church relations, constituency relations, and, most recently, donor relations.
DRS responds to domestic disasters, working closely with local organizations. “The first thing we do is needs assessment, going door to door to see what kind of home repair needs there are,” Laarman explained. “We give those to the local organizations to take over, and one way they respond is to invite our construction crews.”
Many volunteers come on board throughout the process. The strong culture of church and volunteer involvement is one aspect of DRS that excites Laarman most. “It’s unique. It’s a real opportunity for people in church to take what they hear on Sunday and put their faith into action,” he said.
“Bob brings relational strength to the job and embodies the vision and values of the organization,” said Carol Bremer-Bennett, director for World Renew-U.S. “We are confident in his leadership and look forward to how he will lead the DRS team for the future.”
Laarman succeeds the program’s interim director and former director of World Renew-U.S. Andrew Ryskamp, who has held the DRS role temporarily since May 2016.