PORTLAND, Ore. – Over the past week, specially trained American Red Cross volunteers from across the nation have been deployed to the Northwest to provide food, shelter, counseling and care for families in hard hit communities along the northern Oregon coast.
But behind the scenes, a different type of volunteer work force has emerged to bolster Red Cross efforts from within. Dozens of local men and women with little or no emergency response training have stepped forward as “spontaneous volunteers,” eager to help their neighbors in need.
There’s no shortage of work for these volunteers: Pulling warehouse duty in Beaverton to move tons of bulk relief supplies, scrambling to fill administrative support roles at the disaster operation headquarters, or providing guidance to out-of-town volunteers with directions and insight into local communities.
“We are enormously grateful for the outpouring of local volunteerism,” said Victoria Short Baum, disaster services human resources administrator for the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross. Though needs have been met for the time being, the Red Cross was able to accept support from those willing to give at least two days of their time and undergo a brief orientation with background check.
“We need to help ourselves,” added Short Baum, who is a native Oregonian. “Our sincere hope is that these heroic men and women who came forward and insisted on helping will stay with us, become official Red Cross volunteers and stand with us the next time a major incident strikes.”