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Volunteers Interrupt Holidays to Open Disaster Shelter

2014-12-30 - Los Angeles - Volunteers Interrupt Holidays to Open Disaster Shelter

Photo: Roy Vargas, Kenny Jones and Tyler Hastings are three of the more than 65 volunteers who helped open a shelter right after Christmas.

We were at a high level of readiness, since we had surveyed our volunteers before the holidays to determine who would be available.

Red Cross volunteer Tyler Hastings was nearly 175 miles north of L.A., driving back from his hometown of Corcoran when he received the call on Christmas Day.

Roy Vargas was enjoying the holiday with friends, and Kenny Jones was helping his mother cook Christmas dinner when they were notified: A major fire affected 23 units of a residential motel in the Westlake area of L.A., and the Red Cross was on stand-by to open a shelter for the displaced residents.

Although the motel’s property manager found temporary housing for the residents on Christmas evening, the Red Cross opened the doors of a shelter for the displaced residents on Dec. 27 at the Echo Park Community Center.

The extra day gave volunteers more time to prepare for the major task of opening a shelter, developing feeding plans and providing other assistance to an expected population of around 50 people.

Hastings, the job’s designated Assistant Director of Logistics, worked to identify a shelter team and then delivered a trailer of cots to the shelter. Vargas, a Mass Care Lead, made plans for feeding the residents, and Jones had a chance to rest up, since he would end up working two 12-hour shifts as a Shelter Associate, welcoming residents and setting up food at the shelter.

Thank you to the more than 65 disaster volunteers from all the territories around the L.A. Region who worked on the Echo Park shelter operation during this holiday season, including those who staffed the shelter and those who worked at the Red Cross Emergency Operations Center, located at the West L.A. Red Cross, from which the operations are coordinated.

“We were at a high level of readiness, since we had surveyed our volunteers before the holidays to determine who would be available,” said Joe Green, the job’s Operation Director. “In the last week we had the potential of opening three shelters because of the high incidence of multi-family dwelling fires this time of year, so we’re grateful our volunteers make themselves available to help those in need.”

The Echo Park Community Center shelter closes today.

For more information about becoming a Red Cross L.A. Region disaster volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org/ca/los-angeles/volunteer.