Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What about after disaster volunteers

As we move into a new world of volunteerism I find myself redefining how I view volunteers.  Don't get me wrong I love volunteers, and think they are a strong ally in the disaster response and recovery.  My need to have background checks is based on the sector I work in (Mass Care and/or Medical Facilities).  

But in Sandy there have been many wonderful examples of volunteers stepping up and helping.  After all that is what we all want; for people to step up and take responsibility for their recovery, but the issue is how to responsibly utilize them. There has to be a system in place to accomplish the mission.
Things a systematic plan will do:
·       utilize volunteers time well- limit the standing around doing nothing
·       Not doing double work - systematic coverage of the area, doing recovery in logical order
·       Working in a way that helps the most people - how can we get to the people who need help the most

So here is the problem, as I see it.
Organizations that have a mission and work with volunteers on a regular basis have a plan (for the most part).  The Red Cross for sheltering. MRC for medical care in shelters. CERT for community work.  But all of these organizations have a process for training and processing folks.

So who is responsible for the people who muck out houses? Who put furniture into dumpsters? Who set up feeding kitchens or coffee stops? Donation centers as in the article below.
And then how do we end and move back to normalcy?  I think that is a different article.  
So unanswered questions:
  1. Should the government try to provide structure for volunteers in the settings of this article?
  2. Should Local VOAD(COAD) take a more active role in the beginning of the recovery (being prepared to set up during the end of response? 
  3. Is there another answer?  I don't think I have it, but someone does