Spirit of volunteerism strengthened after Katrina - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Spirit of volunteerism strengthened after Katrina

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Before the winds calmed, the words "how can I help?" were traveling across the state after Hurricane Katrina.

"It empowered people where they realized they weren't helpless watching the news. That there were things they could do," said Deirdra Harris Glover with the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service.

Organizations say that spirit of volunteerism was strengthened through the storm, but it also taught them valuable lessons.

"People volunteering ahead of time is really important. Whenever we have a big disaster we have what we call spontaneous volunteers and they just come from everywhere," said Bill Feist with the Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services.

That's where VOAD, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, steps in. It exists on both a national and state level.

"It was a result of Katrina that the word got out among the responding agencies that there was a mechanism in place that was available to us to be able to share information. It keeps us from duplicating and makes us a lot more effective in the work that we do," explained Sherry Lanier.

Lanier serves a Disaster Response and Short Term Missions Facilitator for the Presbyterian Church in America's Mission to North America.

They say it can often create a second disaster if volunteers go in unprepared, but they've seen first hand how they can serve in ways the government can't.

"Somebody has to go into the brokenness of what was a person's home and life and pick things up. And that has to be done in a very careful, respectful, loving way," said Wayne Napier who works with the Mississippi United Methodist Disaster Response team.

State emergency management now works closely with the volunteer organizations so they can assist in the safest and most effect ways.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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