Red Cross seeks hurricane season volunteers

The following is a press release from the American Red Cross: 

LAKE CHARLES, May 14, 2012 —The American Red Cross, the volunteer-based nonprofit that shelters and feeds displaced residents, needs thousands of new volunteers to register and receive training now before disaster strikes.

Volunteers who help disaster victims by providing a safe space to rest, food and emotional support are critical to Louisiana's resiliency. Every shelter also needs the support of health and mental health professionals. Choose from three workshops hosted at local Red Cross chapters on May 19, June 9 and July 14 throughout the state.

"The great thing about it is anybody can take training and go help," said Clay Smilie, who volunteered with his wife during Hurricane Gustav and recently in southwest Louisiana. "You don't have to be special.

Anyone can do it who wants to. Whether retired or working, you can still help. The only qualification you have to have is the willingness to help others during a time of need."

Red Cross volunteers are always there to help, but more volunteers are needed to care for those in crisis. "Evacuees are facing uncertainty and maybe worried about loved ones," said Jane Morgan, state disaster officer for the Red Cross. "People giving their time to share a hug, offer a meal, give reassuring words and being there is just an immeasurable value. They can't take away the anguish, but they can show concern."

Louisiana residents often will respond after a disaster, but it is critical to register and receive training in advance so that response is not delayed. RNs, LPNs, EMTs, doctors, nursing students and other health and mental health professionals receive additional Red Cross training to assist in their volunteer role.

To get started, register at Click on the location and date that works best for you. That link will take you into the simple registration system. Click on New User at the top right of the page and fill out a short form. Last, click Place Order. There is no charge for disaster courses.

WHAT: Statewide Training Days for new volunteers for hurricane season
WHY: Train Louisiana residents to volunteer when needed after disasters
WHO: Southwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross
WHERE: 3512 Kirkman St., Lake Charles
WHEN: Choose May 19, June 9 or July 14. Courses begin at 9 a.m.

About the American Red Cross:
The Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half
of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports
military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government
agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.