MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The American Red Cross Cross’ Central Appalachia Region is encouraging people to volunteer to help those impacted by disasters in their communities and across the country.
As a result, it will be hosting several Volunteer Orientation Briefings to provide an opportunity for potential volunteers to learn more about virtual, local, or national opportunities. Jason Keeling, the executive director of the American Red Cross of the Allegheny Highlands, said the organization is responding to wildfires, hurricanes, and home fires 24/7. He said the Red Cross is looking to find as many volunteers as possible to help provide clients services they need.
These workshops have been designed so that we can fast track and get volunteers, potential volunteers, up to speed on what opportunities exist, and how their skill sets and backgrounds might best fit. That could be something from someone actually going and responding on the ground and helping to provide shelter, helping to distribute food, water, etc. Or it could be someone who might virtually volunteer by providing emotional support of spiritual care, as we call it, and also casework services. So just help people to establish a plan because they just experienced one of the most difficult times in their lives by being affected by a disaster.Jason Keeling
Currently, Keeling said, there are 18 people from the Central Appalachia Region in Louisianna, California, and Oregon right now, which means there is a need to have continually renewed people available to fill the volunteer workforce because volunteers do the majority of the work. He said he understands that not everyone has the ability to travel to another state, but there is always work to be done locally and a way to help others in different states without leaving your home.
In the age of COVID-19, the virtual component is key, and there are many ways volunteers can help locally and nationally through that means of service, Keeling said.
Often, that involves reaching out to people immediately after a disaster and making sure they have what they need to survive. That includes finding them somewhere to stay, like a hotel, shelter, or anywhere available.
“Or making sure they might have a degree of monetary assistance so that they can get food, clothing, medical supplies,” Keeling said. “It also might be emotional support where we have a volunteer who is qualified in counseling or therapy, and they’re able to talk to a client and just help them to process their emotions.”
The Red Cross is hosting several Volunteer Orientation Briefings highlighting the opportunities available. Briefings will be held at 12:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on every Tuesday until November 10.
To register, interested parties can visit the registration website.
“Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to carry out our mission,” Keeling said. “And we are definitely continuing on even during this period of COVID-19, and we’re doing our best to be able to bring volunteers in and engage them in a way that works for them.”