Red Cross looking for volunteers in Moffat County
If you’re an able-bodied person interested in lending your neighbors a helping hand in times of need, the American Red Cross of Moffat County wants your help.
In a news release Tuesday, Red Cross said the recent multi-family Davis House fire highlighted the need for local volunteers from Craig and Moffat County as the organization had to bring in volunteers from other areas nearby.
“One of those volunteers came from Meeker, one came from Oak Creek, and one came from Steamboat (Springs),” said Josh Stewart, the area’s regional volunteer recruitment manager for the American Red Cross.
Courtney Strother, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Western Colorado, said they assisted 20 people in the aftermath of the Davis House fire.
“The Davis House fire was a challenge in many ways because Moffat County is an area where we have a very small volunteer footprint,” Strother said. “We assisted 20 people and provided assistance for lodging and other immediate disaster-caused needs.”
Those volunteers who sign up will be given specialized training for several volunteer positions including community ambassador, disaster action team member, disaster health services volunteer for registered nurses or physicians, storytellers with media or writing experience, and preparedness educators who instruct residents of all ages on how to be better prepared for a disaster.
“We just need more volunteers. People who care about others and are willing to step up and make a difference,” Strother said. “We’ll give them the training and resources they need so they can help their community.”
Red Cross wants the community to know disasters like the Davis House fire happen regularly, as do larger disasters like winter storms, flash floods, and wildfires.
Any Red Cross response to those disasters are done mostly with volunteers.
“Our volunteers are truly dedicated to providing support for people affected by disasters,” said Gino Greco, CEO of the Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming. “We owe them our thanks and gratitude.”
Greco also said that the organization needs more volunteers, especially in the more rural areas like Moffat County.
Residents wanting to learn more about volunteering for the Red Cross can call Josh Stewart at 970-242-6646, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via Red Cross’ website at redcross.org/volunteer where it’s easy to sign up.
“It’s pretty simple steps to follow to join a team,” Stewart said of their website.
Stewart said he’d like to build a base of local volunteers so the Craig and Moffat County communities can be better prepared for fires and providing a shelter if or when a devastating fire occurs.
“Probably the most common thing that will happen is a forest fire,” Stewart said of his coverage area. “If there’s a forest fire and there are some folks displaced, we’d like folks to help with a shelter if it’s needed.”
Dan Bingham, a crime victim services advocate who assisted the Davis House residents the night of the fire, said a Red Cross DAT (disaster action team) is vital if a major disaster of any kind were to occur in Craig or Moffat County as the team helps ensure timely and accurate applications for a host of federal, state, and local disaster relief services.
“It’s really important those first few hours of intake are accurate so we get contact info and we know where poople are goiugn to be and what their immediate emergency needs are,” Bingham said Tuesday. “…that’s vital for everything that happens after that.”
While the Red Cross will almost always be able to respond to any disaster in Moffat County, Stewart said local volunteers who know their friends and neighbors are better than brining volunteers from somewhere else.
“We’re always going to be able to respond,” Stewart said. “We’ll always be there for the community. But in ideal situations, its neighbors taking care of neighbors.”
Having helped victims of crime and disaster for decades, Bingham encouraged anyone with some free time to volunteer it with the American Red Cross.
“I will tell you it’s very, very rewarding to help somebody that’s in crisis,” Bingham said. “To make sure they get a place to stay and a warm meal and a little safety and security while they figure out what to do next.”