By Matt Kelly, Radio Iowa
With wildfires raging on the West Coast and a busy hurricane season developing on the East Coast, the American Red Cross is calling on Iowans to sign up for difficult — and rewarding — volunteer positions.
Josh Murray, spokesman for the agency’s Iowa chapter, says they need people of all ages who work in a range of professions to handle disasters large and small.
“Pretty much whatever skills and interests you have, we can find a position for you,” Murray says. “We have ones that are going to be on the front line to help at shelters, help deliver food and get relief supplies to people, health services, mental health services. We also need people who are either working from home or working in an office to help answer some phone calls.”
Select disaster response volunteers reach out via computer to victims of housefires, for example, but he says it’s hoped more of that type of assistance will be done in person soon.
“If you have just an hour or two a week, we can get something for that. If you’re able to deploy and go help on the West Coast or the Southeast during one of these big disasters and can be gone for a week to ten days, we have that opportunity, too,” Murray says. “We can really find something that fits your interests, your availability, and your skill set.”
The Red Cross Disaster Action Teams are the first line of care, comfort, and compassion for those affected by a disaster, he says, and the volunteers find the work fulfilling.
“They come in and they want to just get their toe in it and see how it is, and then they realize, ‘Oh, wow, this is great!’ You feel good about yourself and see the impact you’re making,” Murray says. “Ninety percent of the work that we do is carried out by volunteers, so we couldn’t do anything we do without our volunteers and they see that impact they’re making when they serve.”
Learn more about how you can help the Red Cross chapter in your area at: www.redcross.org/iowa.