“The next time a disaster occurs, we will be contacted and ready when the time comes to help our neighbors in need,” says Cathy Anderson, a member of the FedEx Software Quality Assurance department. Anderson and other members of the department completed the American Red Cross Shelter Operations training at the Mid-South Chapter in Memphis. The group selected to learn how to set up, run and close a disaster shelter during FedEx Cares Week, a week when FedEx employees volunteer in their communities throughout the world.
Software Quality Assurance staff members are the most recent of nearly 150 Memphis-area FedEx employees who have learned to respond to a disaster through the Ready When the Time Comes program. This Red Cross program trains employees from various businesses and organizations and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force.
Call to Service
When Memphis flooded in 2010, FedEx employees worked with employees from other corporations and Red Cross disaster workers as shelter volunteers. That winter FedEx employees were called to serve when the City of Memphis established warming centers after an extended severe cold spell and ice storm caused widespread power outages. The next year Tennessee again endured record-setting rains that flooded neighborhoods and drove thousands from their homes. FedEx volunteers helped the Red Cross respond, giving people a safe place to stay, hot meals, comfort and clean-up kits and emotional support.
Newly trained, members of the Software Quality Assurance team haven’t yet been called to respond to a disaster, but they are certified to do so. “I hope a tragedy doesn’t happen,” Anderson says, “but it is inevitable. Everyone in the group agrees that if we’re called, we’ll serve.”
Anderson grew up in Mississippi, and is prompted to serve by memories of Hurricane Katrina. She is inspired by learning that the bulk of disasters are not big ones that make national news, but neighborhood house and apartment fires. “You don’t even realize how many people face a home fire until you volunteer for the Red Cross,” Anderson said. “It was an eye opening experience.”
Red Cross Appreciation
Corporate volunteers are highly valued by the Red Cross. “The Ready When the Time Comes program offers an opportunity to connect with corporations in a different way,” says Jeana Bailley, Mid-South Chapter education and partnership manager.
Bailley goes on to explain that many corporate volunteer programs engage employees in one-time projects, while Ready When the Time Comes volunteers are trained to volunteer again and again. “We value our relationship with FedEx and all of our Ready When the Time Comes volunteers,” she adds.
In 2011, the Ready When the Time Comes program marked its tenth anniversary. Currently 14,000 volunteers from more than 460 businesses and organizations in 54 cities are trained. W.W. Grainger, Inc. serves as the national founding sponsor of the program.