SPE Volunteerism Initiatives

Bill Bowers

by Bill Bowers, Exterran
2008-2009 SPE GCS Chairman


SPE Gulf Coast Section’s leadership is committed to promoting Member volunteerism to “give-back” to our community and as a way to foster a positive image of our industry and the people who work in it. A recent example was our participation in the Thanksgiving Houston SuperFeast on Thanksgiving Day.  The SuperFeast, held on the grounds of Houston City Hall, served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless and less fortunate of the City of Houston. The Section donated $1,000 and organized SPE Members to volunteer at the event. An article describing the event will be in next month’s newsletter.

The Chairman’s Corner for November reported on the response of SPE International and the Gulf Coast Section to the property damage and human suffering caused by Hurricane Ike. SPEI donated $5,000 to the disaster relief agency of the Section’s choice under a new policy on Charitable Contributions for Disaster Relief, recently adopted by the SPEI Board of Directors. This policy established that a $5,000 donation will be made by SPEI when a significant disaster occurs within an area where there is an SPE Section. The SPE Gulf Coast Section selected the Greater Houston Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and matched SPEI’s donation, bringing the total donation to $10,000.

We also reported that in parallel with the monetary donation policy, a plan has been put into place to identify and develop relationships with one or more regional relief providers so that SPE members can volunteer quickly in time of disaster. Through our contact with Houston Area Red Cross, we learned of a pilot program that we believe fits this objective perfectly.

Ready When the Time Comes

Houston Area Red Cross learned during hurricanes Katrina and Rita that while many Gulf Coast residents will volunteer their time in the immediate wake of disaster, their ability to quickly bring these volunteers into the Red Cross system, train them, and give them a meaningful assignment was quite limited. A pilot disaster volunteer program has been established in Houston Area Red Cross to recruit, pre-train and, to the extent possible, pre-position volunteers so that they can more quickly and easily go straight to work helping their neighbors. 

This program is called Ready When the Time Comes (RWTC), and is intended to establish a volunteer force of thousands of Houstonians and Gulf Coast area residents available to respond to storms, flooding, industrial accidents, large apartment fires, passenger jet crashes, or acts of terrorism. This volunteer force will be deployed in groups through existing organizations, community groups, and corporations. The volunteers will assist with:

  • Shelter operations
  • Mass feeding
  • Bulk distribution
  • Damage assessment
  • Phone bank
  • Other assignments as needed

SPE Gulf Coast Section RWTC

The Gulf Coast Section’s leadership has agreed to support Houston Area Red Cross by organizing one or more RWTC volunteer teams consisting of SPE Members, family and friends. Each team consists of at least 15 volunteers and a leadership structure consisting of a team captain and assistant captain who maintain and update a team roster. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, and must commit to 4 hours of group training and be willing to submit to a full background check.

Houston Area Red Cross will provide pre-registration in their volunteer database, on-site orientation and training, and opportunities for additional training. Our goal is to have a number of SPE Member RWTC teams in different areas within the Section such that we can assist with quick response regardless of where the need may be.

If you believe you would want to volunteer in the wake of a major disaster, you should join or lead a SPE GCS RWTC unit. This puts you at no commitment other than to participate in the training, agree to the background check, and, through your own reasonable best efforts, to participate when called upon. If you think you would say yes then, then you should say yes now.

You will be receiving emails from SPE GCS promoting this initiative and you may be contacted by SPE volunteers seeking your participation. We have set up a registration page at http://www.spegcs.org/rwtc. For more information on the Houston Area Red Cross RWTC program, visit http://www.houstonredcross.org/en/cms/?109. There is no cost to participate in the RWTC training.

We plan to have our first training session (or sessions) in February, and if successful, we hope to have a SPE GCS RWTC unit participate in Houston Area Red Cross’s “Preparedness on the Square” event in March, an event designed to promote emergency preparedness for the public.

Bill Bowers