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Red Cross Hosts Disaster Shelter Drills During Volunteer Week

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"This drill will prepare our volunteers for the unexpected,” Kay W. Wilkins

This National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, the American Red Cross in south Louisiana is celebrating its volunteers and the work they do in the community to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. 

More than 2,200 volunteers serve across south Louisiana. Nationally, the Red Cross has nearly 400,000 volunteers, which represent more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce.

“Our volunteers respond to house fires, teach lifesaving skills, support our military members in the community and much more,” said Kay W. Wilkins, CEO of the South Louisiana Red Cross. “They help us fulfill our lifesaving mission every day, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for their service.”

A companion celebration, Global Youth Service Day will take place this weekend. It’s a national day of recognition to celebrate and mobilize young people who want to improve their communities through service.  

In collaboration, the south Louisiana Red Cross is hosting three disaster drills for volunteers to experience a hands-on simulation of how the organization operates shelters when disasters strike. The shelter drills are set for Saturday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the following locations:

* Mike Miley Playground, 6716 West Metairie Ave., Metairie, LA. 

* Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1 North Marigold Dr, Covington, LA. 

* Fire Department Training Facility, 300 N. Dugas Road, Lafayette, LA.

Community members are also invited to participate in the exercise, in which veteran shelter leaders will facilitate skill training.

“Whether individual or wide-spread, disasters can be devastating for our communities. This drill will prepare our volunteers for the unexpected,” Wilkins said. “With this practice, our volunteers will be able to immediately open and operate a shelter whenever the need arises.”

Every day, the Red Cross helps people in emergencies. Whether it’s one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member, volunteers make our vital work possible.

Across the organization, the Red Cross has an average of 14 volunteers for every one employee. According to the Independent Sector, the 2012 value of volunteer time is $22.14 per hour, further evidence of the tremendous value and impact volunteers hold for nonprofits such as the Red Cross.

Last year, Red Cross volunteers in the New Orleans metropolitan area provided food, shelter, comfort and hope to 578 local families who faced home fires and other disaster situations, such as floods, tornadoes, extreme temperatures, transportation accidents and hazardous material leaks. They trained 12,265 people in lifesaving skills and provided 1,687 services to military members, veterans and their families. 

The Red Cross invites the public to sign up to volunteer, and even participate in Saturday’s drill. The Red Cross is always looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels. Go to  or contact Jodi Tolliver at (504) 620-2401 or to learn more about volunteer opportunities, the drill and how to submit a volunteer application. 

People who might want to volunteer when a disaster strikes our community should download the Team Red Cross app. Through the free app, people can sign up to help, get an overview on basic tasks and receive notifications about local Red Cross volunteer opportunities. The Team Red Cross App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.