Local Red Cross volunteer Marv Goodman is working on something new here in New Jersey in response to Superstorm Sandy. Marv is reaching out to faith-based organizations and places of worship across the state to work together with Red Cross to serve populations that might otherwise not receive available Red Cross assistance. New Jersey has traditionally been spared from major disasters, but that also means that local underserved populations haven’t previously been identified and reached by Red Cross disaster services. These residents are sometimes immigrants or populations separated by linguistic and cultural barriers.
Marv has found that local places of worship are enthusiastic about working with the Red Cross to serve their communities. “Reaching out to them directly is making a real impact,” said Marv, “it tells them that we’re really invested in their community.” These new relationships help the Red Cross identify unmet needs, and create new partnerships to help address the future recovery needs in these communities.
A major concern for both the Red Cross and partner agencies is ensuring that everyone affected by this disaster feels comfortable accessing Red Cross services, and can successfully move onto the path to recovery. Underserved populations frequently have reduced access to interim housing after a disaster. Faith-based partners help us bridge the gap between immediate disaster-related services from the Red Cross, including safe shelter and hot meals, and community long-term recovery. The Red Cross is working with faith-based partners to identify interim housing solutions for local communities in need.