When large disasters strike, American Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country answer the call to help. They leave their homes and families to travel to areas that have been devastated by disaster.
The American Red Cross New Jersey Region honored its disaster workers who have deployed to disaster relief operations during its Deployment Appreciation Event on Friday, January 27 in Tinton Falls.
“It is my privilege to honor our exceptional volunteers who not only answer the call to help here in New Jersey, but wherever disaster strikes,” said Steve Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “They can always be counted on to provide compassionate care to families during their darkest hours.”
Last year, nearly 300 disaster workers from New Jersey supported a number of disaster relief efforts, including those in the wake of Tropical Storm Hermine, Hurricane Matthew, wildfires in California and unprecedented flooding in Louisiana.
Joan Klimpl of Somerset was honored as the New Jersey volunteer who served on the most Red Cross disaster relief operations in 2016. Her six deployments, which included Hurricane Matthew and West Virginia flooding, totals more than 69 days.
Alan Pew of Westville was recognized as the New Jersey volunteer who served the longest time out on deployment last year. Pew was deployed for a total of more than 75 days on disaster relief operations following Hurricane Matthew and flooding in Louisiana and Texas. Currently deployed to Georgia serving in communities devastated by recent tornadoes, Pew was honored in absentia for his service.
Harvey Johnson, Disaster Cycle Services Senior Vice President, American Red Cross reminded volunteers that most people go to a shelter following a disaster because they have nowhere else to turn. He explained, “when they walk in that shelter, who greets them? A Red Cross volunteer in a Red Cross vest who provides safety and security and comfort. It’s amazing the difference you make in the lives of all those people impacted by disasters.”
Red Cross New Jersey Region Workforce Engagement Team members Claire Geyer of Frenchtown, Maria Araujo of Hillside and Nancy Culbertson of Pitman received accolades for their role in helping volunteers prepare for their deployments, assist with travel arrangements and monitor the status of deployed volunteers.
Geyer was honored with the Outstanding Leadership Award while Araujo and Culbertson received Outstanding Contribution Awards.
Johnson applauded Peter Grey of Hopatcong for his work as Assistant Director for Planning for relief operations in Texas and North Carolina as well as his service as Volunteer Lead for Planning for the New Jersey Region.
“I know I can count on New Jersey to send 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 people to help people across the country,” said Johnson. “You worked hard, you trained hard and you’re ready to go out and serve other people.”
While their fellow volunteers packed their bags and boarded planes to support disaster relief operations, more than 130 volunteers joined the disaster relief operations and served virtually from New Jersey. Virtual volunteers staffed disaster hotlines and assisted with casework for families in need.
The Deployment Appreciation Event was held during the Red Cross New Jersey Region’s four-day Disaster Training Institute. More than 100 people attended the Disaster Training Institute to take courses to learn how to better serve those in need during times of disaster.
“I am proud of all of our terrific disaster workers and community partners who are expanding their skills during the Disaster Training Institute,” said Sarinelli. “By participating in trainings like this, volunteers help ensure we are ready to respond to disasters large and small.”
Courses offered at the Disaster Training Institute included Disaster Cycle Services: An Overview, Disaster Action Team Leadership Workshop, Disaster Spiritual Care Fundamentals, Supervising Volunteers and Managing Teams, Integrated Care Condolence Team, Shelter Fundamentals, Psychological First Aid, ERV: Ready, Set, Roll, Shelter Management, Shelter Strike Teams and Concept of Operations.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER Every single day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things. The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. For more information or find a volunteer orientation near you, visit redcross.org/NJ.