TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – The West Alabama Red Cross is currently trying to increase their numbers of trained volunteers by having a “Volunteer Week” and “Volunteer Fair.” Their goal is to have more Red Cross trained volunteers in the face of the next disaster.
“Volunteers are our number one,” explains community chapter executive, Beakie Powell. “What the Red Cross needs are volunteers, because it’s 97% volunteer-based. That’s our workforce.”
Powell and others at the Red Cross also understand too well how the need for a massive volunteer response can come out of nowhere, like on April 27, 2011. “We want to be able to open a shelter, to mass feed,” says Powell, “lots of different things to where we’re not trying to train them [volunteers] the day that it happens.”
The West Alabama Red Cross has also seen a staggering increase in the number of house fires this year. “Almost double the amount of fire cases that we had at this time from last year,” explains Powell.
“I mean, this organization runs on volunteers,” says Danielle Wray, a disaster services intern who joined with the organization in January. “We cannot do it without volunteers.”
Powell says that the organization is not in danger of not having enough volunteers if a disaster were to suddenly strike. However, the Red Cross does need to replace volunteers who have moved away or who have aged and need to move into less demanding aspects of volunteer work. The West Alabama chapter has a new location in Northport that is more visible to passing traffic. Powell says they have notice an increase in the number of people just dropping in to learn more about the Red Cross.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we’re ready to respond in the face of a disaster, and we have people that are educated to respond,” she says.
The West Alabama chapter will host “Volunteer Week” on April 7-11th. On Tuesday, April 8th they will host a special “Volunteer Fair” from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Workers will talk with potential volunteers about their interests to figure out which aspect of the Red Cross would be the best fit for each individual. The West Alabama Red Cross is located at 1622 Lurleen Wallace Boulevard in Northport.
To learn more about Volunteer Week: Red Cross Volunteer Week
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