How to get your boots on the ground as a Red Cross Volunteer

Have you ever contemplated the difficulties people face when a natural disaster strikes? Have you ever known someone who had been so moved by the scenes of a disaster that they wanted to help? With Hurricane warnings going into effect down in the Caribbean and parts of Florida bracing for Hurricane Isaac, the American Red Cross SEPA chapter is bracing to respond to Hurricane Isaac as well by sending 11 volunteers to Florida with preparation and relief efforts in mind in the event that the hurricane makes landfall.

Let’s talk about those volunteer efforts. It’s always phenomenal to see people help other people. In those moments strangers become family. Volunteers are enormously valuable during a disaster. Still, during disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, there were such a vast number of people who wanted to help, that some showed up to disaster locations without an affiliation to work with or even a place to stay. This isn’t the case for Red Cross volunteers, as the Red Cross champions volunteer efforts during a disaster and makes sure every volunteer has a purpose and a place. Most of all, the Red Cross encourages organized volunteer efforts and invites you to become a Red Cross volunteer.  Here at the Red Cross SEPA Chapter and at every Red Cross chapter nationwide, volunteers who are sent to major distress sites gain experience first by volunteering with their local Red Cross chapter. The Red Cross trains individuals before they are sent out to provide assistance and the Red Cross will also make sure that their volunteers have food and lodging in anticipation of venturing to a place that may be far from home.

Disaster relief work has never been easy. The will to volunteer in itself is a vital component to becoming part of a relief effort team but there is a reason the Red Cross offers training to individuals before they set out to help. Disaster relief efforts can be demanding and necessitate lengthy hours of service. The environment, in which one works, can sometimes be in uncomfortable climates or at uncomfortable temperatures. Volunteers must be ready to engage in dialogue with people who may be in different stages of emotional distress. Volunteers must also be prepared themselves to come to a place where everything has been turned upside down after a disaster.

If you want to respond to large disasters like Katrina, Irene, or even Isaac, the Red Cross wants you and will make sure you are trained and prepared when the time comes to respond. In fact the Red Cross has a Disaster Services Human Resource (DSHR) team that evaluates individuals, making sure that they are in a fair state of health, making sure that they are properly trained and making sure that they are assigned according to their desires and strengths to serve. This is so volunteers can work in the capacity they are most comfortable. This is also because the Red Cross not only cares about the survivors they help but also the Red Cross team members who provide that vital help.

Want to become one of our heroes? You can… just click here to get started!

Our volunteers talk about leaving for Florida to help with relief efforts there.

Jabril Redmond, guest, volunteer blogger

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