|Ready to Respond - The Volunteerism
In 1994 The Volunteerism Project, in collaboration with the Volunteer Centers serving the Bay Area (counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo), launched a disaster response program, now called Ready to Respond. The goal was to create a regional system for the effective mobilization and deployment of spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers (people who want to help but don't have prior disaster training or experience) for disaster response. The system, now in place, stands ready to help speed the community's recovery from disasters by linking volunteers with community-based organizations serving vulnerable populations, with other nonprofits and with government agencies.
Disaster Phone Banks
The phone banks connect potential volunteers
with agencies and organizations that need extra assistance
in providing disaster relief. For large, multi-county
disasters, each Volunteer Center sets up a phone bank.
For smaller disasters, the Center in the affected county
activates and other Centers stand by. In either case,
the phone bank can be reached by dialing each Volunteer
Center's main telephone number or by dialing 1-800-CARE-123.
If telephone service is disrupted, the Volunteer Centers
set up reception centers for walk-in volunteers; locations
will be announced on radio and television and in newspapers.
Volunteer Center staff begins by gathering information
from disaster relief agencies and community-based organizations
serving vulnerable populations regarding what tasks can
be handled by volunteers. The number of jobs grows as
relief operations expand; the result is a wide variety
of volunteer opportunities in a number of locations. Typical
disaster jobs range from translating, reception and clerical
work to sandbagging, damage assessment and debris removal.
When someone calls the phone bank or visits a reception
center, a referral specialist quickly assesses the person's
skills, interests and limitations, if any, and then refers
him or her to an appropriate job. While most callers are
individuals, families and groups that want to volunteer
together are encouraged to call as well.
Training and Technical Assistance
Each Volunteer Center works with local agencies and organizations to help them prepare for and manage disaster volunteers. Workshops focus on the impact of disasters on agency staffing and demand for services; development of disaster volunteer job descriptions; training, supervision and recognition of volunteers; logistics and record-keeping; and policies and procedures. A printed manual reinforces workshop presentations and can also be used by groups working on their own. Through consultations, Volunteer Center staff can work with one or a small group of agencies on specific problems or issues.
Groups of volunteers can help Volunteer Centers meet community needs more quickly and efficiently following a disaster. For this reason, Volunteer Centers have established pre-disaster contacts with businesses and corporations, congregations, and service clubs that can mobilize volunteers for disaster response.
For general information about the program,
Ready to Respond
221 Main, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 808-4387
For information about individual Volunteer
Center disaster response programs, contact the Disaster
Coordinator at any of the following:
Volunteer Center of Alameda County
Volunteer Center of Contra Costa
Marin Nexus/Volunteer Center of Marin
Volunteer Center of San Francisco
415-982-8999, ext. 222
Volunteer Center of San Mateo County
415-982-8999, ext. 222