By Disaster Team Coordinator, Lauren Franklin
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve…You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
This fall, the American Red Cross started a new partnership with CaliforniaVolunteers, sponsored by the Coorporation for National and Community Service and started a new chapter in service through the formation of the California AmeriCorps Disaster Team– a state-wide service program focused on helping communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies. Starting in August 2016, 20 AmeriCorps members stepped up to support California communities across the state; spanning from San Diego to Sacramento. Members serve in a myriad of capacities to best meet the needs of their regions; but, they are all linked together by their dedication to creating safer and more resilient communities—no matter where they serve.
Since the program started, we have seen Disaster Team members commit themselves to their mission of service and dive into their roles as disaster responders. And, we have seen them go above and beyond, supporting the most vulnerable communities in our state. Here are just a few of the ways they serve:
- They spend their Saturdays hosting Home Fire Preparedness Campaigns to provide vulnerable communities with the resources they need to prevent deaths and injuries from home fires.
- They work 12- hour shifts to ensure that Red Cross clients’ needs are met 24/7 — until they can transition out of community shelters.
- They work late into the evenings presenting workshops at community centers, PTA meetings, afterschool clubs, and volunteer events.
- They wake up for 2am disaster responses to provide support to families whom may have lost their home in a fire.
Through their hard work and dedication, the California AmeriCorps Disaster Team has already made an extraordinary impact on California communities. In fact, in just the first five months of their term the Disaster Team has:
- Provided vital disaster preparedness trainings to 4,522 California residents
- Supported 2,311 Red Cross clients after local and national disasters
- Responded to 72 local disaster responses across five Red Cross Regions
- Supported 352 state clients through deployments with California Volunteers
- Deployed to multiple large-scale disaster responses, including the Oakland Warehouse Fire and Hurricane Matthew.
The California AmeriCorps Disaster Team has truly embraced the AmeriCorps pledge of strengthening communities and ‘getting things done for America’. In honor of AmeriCorps Week, we want to say thank you to our Disaster Team members for all they have already done to better our communities. We are honored for your service and can’t wait to see the impact you make throughout the rest of your term!