The Houston Area Red Cross learned during hurricanes Katrina and Rita that while many Gulf Coast residents are willing to volunteer their time in the immediate wake of a disaster, the ability to quickly bring these volunteers into the Red Cross system, train and give them meaningful assignments was limited. A disaster response program was subsequently created by the Red Cross that recruits, trains, organizes and positions local volunteers so that they can quickly and effectively go straight to work helping their neighbors.
This program, called Ready When the Time Comes (RWTC) establishes a volunteer force of area residents that are trained and available to the Red Cross for shelter operations, large group meals, bulk distribution of supplies, damage assessment, phone bank operations and other assignments as needed. This volunteer force is drawn primarily from community organizations and corporations.
In 2009 the SPE Gulf Coast Section became part of this force. Via ‘calls for volunteers’ in 2009 & 2010, approximately 45 SPE-GCS members have been trained by the Red Cross to serve as RWTC Volunteers. From this group, Team Captains have been assigned who maintain rosters and serve as points of contact for Red Cross staff when calling out and assigning Volunteers in response to a disaster. Many of our Volunteers have acquired additional Red Cross training and participated in local disaster drills.
In order to increase the size and availability of our force, we are circulating this ‘Call for Volunteers -2011’ to SPE-GCS members who may be interested in this volunteer opportunity. We plan to have our 2011 SPE-GCS RWTC training sessions in May at the Houston Area Red Cross Command Center.
If you are interested in quickly and effectively helping out our community in the wake of a disaster, you should consider this volunteer opportunity. Volunteers can be family members and friends; however, they must be at least 18 years old. As a RWTC Volunteer, your only commitments are to participate in Red Cross RWTC training (one six-hour session), agree to a full background check, and through your own best effort and availability, respond when called upon in the event of a disaster.
Specific dates and times for the training will be emailed to those signed up. The sign-up deadline is April 15, 2011.
Mother Nature has been kind to us recently with no need to call out RWTC Volunteers to respond to a disaster in our area. We may not be so fortunate in the future. As such, we hope you will help us increase the ranks of SPE-GCS Members who are Ready When the Time Comes.