Red Cross offering fast-track training courses for new volunteers looking to help with Hurricane Harvey relief


DARKE COUNTY — Hurricane Harvey has proven to be one of the most disastrous storms to ever hit the United States, causing massive flooding and causing at least 70 deaths in Texas, and Hurricane Irma is expected to follow suit in Florida. Together, these two storms have created one of the most powerful back-to-back natural disasters in recent memory.

For the American Red Cross, this means providing food and shelter for thousands of people forced to evacuate both states during the hurricanes, and then months of providing assistance as order is restored and lives are reassembled. The Red Cross sheltered nearly 40,000 people at nearly 300 shelters at the height of the disaster, and has served more than 1.2 million meals and snacks. Nearly 4,000 volunteers from across the country on the ground in Texas, and another 1,200 in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama in preparation for Irma.

But that’s not enough. While Red Cross volunteers are amazingly dedicated and devoted to helping others during these times of crisis, more help is always needed. That’s why the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross is holding a “Zero to Hero” fast-track training course for new Red Cross disaster volunteers who are interested in deploying to assist with Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma.

Participants enter the class as new workforce but leave being trained and ready to deploy in any Mass Care role. The course includes instructor-led presentations on Everyone is Welcome (meeting the needs of those with disabilities or access needs), Deployment Fundamentals, and Mass Care Fundamentals. The course are being taught Tuesday, September 12, in the Troy offices (1314 Barnhart Road) from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Upon completion of the course, volunteers will take two additional online class assignments and will then be eligible to deploy to Texas or Florida to help those impacted by the hurricanes.

In addition to disaster volunteers, the Red Cross offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. To learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer or you can attend a volunteer orientation Monday, September 11 from 3:30 to 4:30 at the Troy Chapter office.

Orientation is for volunteers who wish to work locally or nationally. No sign-up is required. Also on Monday, starting at 6 p.m. is an all volunteer meeting for Red Cross volunteers, new and old, with a “Back to School” theme.

“This is an excellent opportunity for prospective volunteers to meet our volunteer work force, learn more about what we do and decide if the Red Cross is for you,” said Lynne Gump, Executive Director. There will be break-out sessions, covering the different services, a pep-rally and even “after-school snacks.”

Training and all disaster-related services provided by the Red Cross are free. The Red Cross is not a governmental agency, though, so the costs to provide these services comes from donations provided by the generosity of the American public. Anyone wishing to make a donation to support families suffering as a result of disasters such as Hurricane Harvey are encouraged to do so. To make a gift, go to RedCross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999.

Staff report