It’s been a busy year for staff and volunteers with the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross.
An apartment fire, ice storm, and tornado happened within the first four months of 2014. That doesn’t include the numerous house fires and other disaster emergencies that have also taken place in the chapters 10 county radius. In all, Jessica McFadden, Disaster Program Manager with the Georgia Three Rivers chapter said the organization has responded to 190 cases to assist clients.
It’s a pretty big number when you consider the local chapter only has four staff members, and a 96 percent volunteer base that covers 10 counties in our area including: Troup, Meriwether, and Coweta.
“There’s lots to do,” said McFadden. ” We volunteers that are client case workers, nurses, and mental health counselors. Some work out logistics and in our shelters. We have about 50 volunteers on our Disaster Action Team. They get up in the middle of the night to help out if there’s a fire.”
But the Georgia Three Rivers chapter needs more help. On Thursday, they hosted the first volunteer recruitment session called “Walk An Hour in My Vest.” Staff and volunteers shared more about the organization, what they do, and the different areas they need people to serve.
One of those volunteers is Doodle Eubanks. He joined the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter three years ago, after a tornado destroyed part of his home in Meriwether County.
“I jumped in with both feet,” he said. ” I took just about every class the American Red Cross offered.”
Eubanks is now part of the Disaster Action Team and is on call two weeks a month. He was promoted to shelter supervisor and just recently returned from helping folks devastated by massive flooding in Pensacola, Florida.
He spent 17 days with other Red Cross volunteers from around the country, working 12 hours or more in a mass care shelter that housed an average of 95 victims per day. Eubanks said he worked a total of 90 hours in just the first week. It was his first experience as a volunteer helping in a disaster out of state and he said he would do it again.
“You meet so many people. It’s amazing,” he said. ” It’s like one big family. Whether you’re from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, or Georgia….we were all there for one reason. “
That reason being to help people in their hour of need. Around a dozen folks showed up for the first session of “Walk an Hour in My Vest, but the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter hopes more people will heed the call.
“Anything you do, you get a rewarding feeling,” said Eubanks. ” If you go out at three in the morning and help folks who have lost everything, that makes it worthwhile….when you’re helping someone who has absolutely nothing, that’s rewarding.”
The American Red Cross offers free training and classes, either online or in a classroom setting. If you’d like to volunteer or make a donation, contact the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter at (706) 882-5853, or visit them online at GA3RiversRedCross.org.