Red Cross Trains New Volunteers

We are just days away from the start of the 2007 hurricane season and South Mississippi is still in need of disaster volunteers.  That's why the American Red Cross is holding several mass training sessions to get people prepared.

Dozens of people from all over South Mississippi are taking the steps to help save lives.

"It's really just to show the community that there are people out there who care about them and people who just really want to help people get back on their feet after a disaster," says Lauren Bon, a volunteer trainee.

"It's crazy when something like Katrina happens and it's just good for everyone to be prepared," says Kayla Weinberg, a volunteer trainee.

Volunteers showed up at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi to become Red Cross Volunteers.

"I want to use those skills that the Navy is teaching me to help with the community," Enrique Acosta, a volunteer trainee.

Enrique Acosta is also a is a navy chief at the seabee base.

As a weather instructor, he says his military training fits in with the fundamental premise of the American Red Cross.

"We prepare people to prepare, plan and react to these emergencies and disasters so it's important to have them because they actually help people help themselves," says Acosta.

Bob Beebe knows all about those principles.

He is the emergency services director with the Red Cross.

"It's just people wanting to help other people and their neighborhoods," says Beebe.

This is especially critical because Beebe says if a disaster strikes, there are not enough volunteers to open an adequate number of shelters along the coast.

"We are required to open 17 shelters in Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River Counties and currently we can open about five of them," says Beebe.

The Red Cross needs about 170 additional volunteers to operate all 17 shelters. That's why leaders are hoping people will find time to get necessary training in case of an emergency.

Training for the Red Cross continues Sunday at the Mississippi State University Extension Center beginning at 9 a.m.

If you are not able to register for this weekend's training session and you still want to become a volunteer you can call 896-4511.