Last week I got a chance to visit the Red Cross House at 40th and Powelton Avenue in University City. As a new volunteer member in the Communications Department with Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania, I was referred to the Red Cross House for a visit to become familiar with some of the services the Red Cross offers disaster survivors in Philadelphia. A few of the things I instantly noticed when I arrived at the Red Cross House was that the facility was clean, the front desk staff was friendly, and the building supported a cool climate, which seemed requisite for a July day, and a welcome reprieve from the temperatures outside. After explaining the nature of my visit to the staff at the front desk, names were shared between us, handshakes were exchanged and then I was taken for a tour of the Red Cross House.
The Red Cross House, I learned is a solution to disaster, a one-of-a-kind facility, where temporary stay and support is offered to victims of housing displacement and disasters ranging from house fires, chemical leaks, power outages and other forms of property damage. Inside the Red Cross House, beyond the front desk one can find a kitchen and dining room area where people are fed three meals a day. There are also computers available for temporary residents to use to plug into a search engine. There is a modest sized library for browsing through books and a room for listening to music. There is a laundry and storage room in the basement. Upstairs are bedrooms and even a play space allocated for children.
Within 24 hours, a caseworker meets with the newly arrived disaster victims and family to map out short and long-term disaster recovery plans. In addition to case worker services the Red Cross House offers safety training, mental health services, life skills information and housing search assistance. All of these services are provided for individuals and families staying at the Red Cross House to strengthen them during a hard time, to provide consolation, and to advocate for them in their time of rebuilding back to a place of normalcy. The Red Cross House is just another way the Red Cross is ready to help those confronted with disaster.
Click here for more information about Red Cross House and its services.
Jabril Redmond, Volunteer