When disaster strikes, every little bit helps. To make the most of your contributions, consider these tips for volunteering responsibly:
- Affiliate with existing non-profit organizations before coming to the disaster area. Immediately following a disaster, a community can become easily overwhelmed by the amount of generous people who want to help. Contacting and affiliating with an established organization will help to ensure that you are appropriately trained to respond in the most effective way.
- Be safe. Do not self-deploy until a need has been identified and the local community impacted has requested support. Wait until it is safe to travel to volunteer sites and opportunities have been identified. Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety gear for the task.
- Be patient. Recovery lasts a lot longer than the media attention. There will be volunteer needs for many months, often years, after the disaster - especially when the community enters the long-term recovery period.
Volunteer Before Disaster Strikes
Volunteer with a recognized organization involved in disaster response and recovery prior to the next disaster event.
- Volunteer with a non-profit organization and be trained before the next event to find meaningful volunteer opportunities following a disaster.
- There are many organizations and faith-based groups in your community that have active disaster programs and need volunteers:
- Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it's through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.
- VolunteerMatch helps volunteers find opportunities in their community through an online platform. Hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the county are looking for help and you can search to see what organizations with disaster recovery missions meets your interests and skills.
- The Community Emergency Response Team program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.
- Addresses state and community challenges by investing in high impact service solutions, while leveraging public, private, and nonprofit partnerships and resources. Uncover new volunteer opportunities that matter to you, wherever you are.
- Built upon the belief that ordinary people can come together and achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools. This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects.
- Embrace the personal responsibility to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety.