Jackson Co. Red Cross searches for disaster volunteers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson Co. Red Cross searches for disaster volunteers


By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - When a storm threatens the coast, the American Red Cross will staff evacuation shelters. But the agency's Southeast chapter volunteer force is down 36 percent. Now the Red Cross is trying to sign up new volunteers before disaster strikes.

Jo Longley is a long time volunteer for Jackson County's Red Cross. She's worked ten disasters at home and across the country.

"Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, it doesn't matter what the disaster it is," Longley said. 

Director Paige Roberts wants to sign up more dedicated people like Longley to volunteer. 

"Who is really expected to be here when a storm is coming to our backyard?  We know that is our biggest struggle," Roberts said. 

There are 107 volunteers ready to work. That's down from the 168 volunteers on the list in 2009. The chapter said fewer people can slow down the response time to emergencies. 

"Some people don't volunteer because they think they don't have the right skills. Some people don't volunteer because they don't have the time. Time is what you make of it." 

Now, the Red Cross staff has begun a targeted recruitment in the community to find people with different skills to do specific jobs. 

"For example, we need people to volunteer with children in shelters. We would like for it to be people who already know how to work with children, people who teach Sunday school or daycare workers," Roberts said.

The Red Cross knows extra hands serving will help keep communities safe after catastrophes. Hopefully, this hunt for help will be successful. 

"We are going at this with a since of urgency." 

Anyone interested in becoming a Red Cross Volunteer should call (228) 762-2455.

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