| The American Red Cross, Pioneer Valley Chapter is hosting an Open House for prospective disaster volunteers on Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. Anyone interested in learning about disaster services volunteer opportunities is urged to attend this informative Open House which will include demonstrations and the opportunity to meet staff and other volunteers. Refreshments will be served and attendees will have the great opportunity to experience the wonderful camaraderie of what it's like to be a part of The American Red Cross.|
Disaster volunteers enjoy a team atmosphere and work as a group to respond to local disasters providing relief. Training is free, and those interested can become certified to respond to large-scale national disasters. In the month of November, the local Red Cross has assisted 108 people whose homes were affected by fire, and provided over 1200 emergency services workers with nourishment as they dealt with the largest hazardous materials incident in the Commonwealth when a sulfuric acid leak impacted residents in Granby and South Hadley. Since the beginning of the fiscal year, we have tripled the amount of money spent on direct client services over the same period last year.
People from all walks of life are encouraged to stop by to learn more about how they can get involved. Disaster team members include retirees, husband and wife teams, college students, and bilingual individuals. Current volunteers will be on hand during the Open House to talk about their experiences and welcome prospective volunteers.
"What we look for in a good volunteer is a sense of compassion and a willingness to learn. We have some volunteers that respond to nearly all of the disaster calls we get, and others who we rely on if we need to open a shelter for a large local disaster. You can set your own level of involvement," states Brenda Brouillette, Assistant Director of Disaster Services at the American Red Cross, Pioneer Valley Chapter.
"Training of disaster volunteers is a big part of our preparedness mission-when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast we sent out 47 trained local volunteers to assist in this enormous relief effort," Brouillette added. "When something of the magnitude of Katrina happens, we all want to help. But training is so important, and local volunteer work helps to provide you with the important skills needed to serve our own communities-and also helps prepare those folks who may also have an interest in regional or national disaster relief assignments as well."
For more information on becoming a disaster volunteer for the American Red Cross, please call Brenda at 737-4306 ext 911 or apply online at www.redcrosspioneervalley.org. The American Red Cross is not a recipient of government funding and relies upon voluntary community support for its services and programs.