When the American Red Cross responds to disasters, we work side by side with a number of partner organizations. A sight that has become very familiar among the distinctive Red Cross vests on a response is the grey t-shirts worn by the young men and women of AmeriCorps.
AmeriCorps is a service organization with multiple branches, supported by the Federal Government, foundations, corporations, and private donors. One branch of AmeriCorps is the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Young adults from 18 to 24, who have a heart for service, join the NCCC and sign up for a ten-month 'tour', performing national and local community service where they have the opportunity to partner with many organizations, including the Red Cross.
One of those NCCC members is 18 year old Bailey Anne Drebbin. Graduating from high school in 2014, she sought opportunities to serve her community and grow as a person before starting college. AmeriCorps was a perfect fit. As an NCCC team member, she goes through a two week training program which includes Red Cross training and certification in First Aid and CPR. All NCCC team members are trained to perform many of the same basic functions, but each member also has a specialization. Bailey Anne is the media representative.
Bailey is part of a team of ten deployed to Oklahoma, working in partnership with the Red Cross. The Americorps teams hit the ground running, teaming up with Red Cross volunteers, being mentored by and also working hand-in-hand with them. The NCCC members make supply runs, perform damage assessment, process inventory and handle client registration and data input at the Multi-Agency Resource Centers and at local Red Cross headquarters. All under the purview of Red Cross volunteers.
Bailey Anne said, "The Red Cross volunteers we've been working with have been AMAZING, super receptive and excited to have us here! They know what they're doing, like 100%. We're here to work and we're also learning as we're working. "
The training and mentoring of the AmeriCorps teams creates an efficient and effective force multiplier for the Red Cross volunteers.
"They have been SUPER patient in showing us what to do and how to do it. This allows us to back them up in their jobs. Once they've passed that knowledge on to us, we're able to really, effectively assist them and get a lot of things done."
The first three days, Bailey Anne did damage assessment, evaluating 15 to 20 houses a day. She then spends two day working at the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) processing paperwork and working with clients.
Bailey Anne enjoys her service with AmeriCorps. When her term ends in July, she's looking forward to starting school at Green Mountain College, a liberal arts school in Vermont. Her emphasis will be Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education.
Bailey reflected on her deployment. "This experience with AmeriCorps and working with the Red Cross is one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. I'm coming away from this experience with a lot of new knowledge and new strengths. I just want to go out in to my community and make a difference."
You can make a difference as well. Contact the Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS or go to REDCROSS.ORG to find out the many ways that you can partner with the Red Cross.