Nashville Red Cross Volunteer "Town Meeting"

posted by Jeffrey on Saturday, September 10, 2005 at 5:14 PM


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My wife and I attended the Nashville Red Cross's "Town Hall" meeting this morning at Lipscomb University. Richard Patton, incoming chairman of the Nashville Red Cross chapter, stepped up to the podium in jeans, a casual button down, and loafers with no socks to give a laid back opening welcome in which he informed the around 400 attendees that giving of their time was very "cool". Following Patton was the Nashville Red Cross's new CEO, Collen Zakrewsky, who spoke about the "marathon" of relief that we are involved in, not the "sprint". Taking the podium thirdly was Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, sporting slacks and a button-down with no tie (I must say I was quite relieved at the abscense of political stuffiness and pomp). Other organizations represented were the Urban League of Middle TN, Hands on Nashville, and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Patton explained that the Red Cross's primary function is immediate disaster relief. He went on to explain that the reason that many offers to volunteer have not been followed up on is directly related to this. His example was this: Red Cross chapters all over the country see a hurricane approacing, load up into the "ERV's" (Emergency Response Vehicles), and head down to an area close to the zone which will be affected. Once an emergency is declared and local officials ask for aid, the volunteers spring in from a short distance away. The problem with this disaster is that they did not expect the extremely high volume of evaccuees to reach this far north, and due to their most highly trained volunteers being off on relief assignments around the coast, no one is left to train the volunteers here. Measures are being taken, he noted, to "crash train" others so they can train the hundreds of volunteers in the area.

So here are some ways you can help. Call number "211" to request or offer aid, register to provide "Elisha Room" for hurricane victims at HurricaneHousing.org or MoveOn.org, or if you are a Church looking to provide larger scale aid (or housing), register at OpenChurches.com. Another option presented this morning was calling 615-843-4002, but I never quite caught what that number was for.

It is the Churches privelage to ensure that the "marathon" relief is ensured, and that as volunteers drop out in the early miles, the kindness of our Maker and King is continually played out in us, His people, for the long haul.

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