On September 17, upon returning to Los Angeles after a three and a half week deployment— two weeks for Hurricane Harvey in Houston, TX and another week and a half in Miami, FL for Hurricane Irma— my first stop wasn’t home. In fact, I headed straight from Los Angeles International Airport to the site of one of our most trusted partners in preparedness, Crenshaw Christian Center, to spread the word about our need for disaster relief volunteers.
Crenshaw Christian Center is not only one of our faith-based partners, they are also a member of our volunteer program called Ready When the Time Comes. Through our Ready When the Time Comes program, corporations and organizations like Crenshaw Christian Center organize a base of community volunteers to be ready to assist with disaster relief efforts whenever they are needed most.
That evening, I spent about 20 minutes on stage giving details about both of my deployments, and thanking the organization for being an esteemed partner of the Red Cross Los Angeles Region. Before I finished speaking, I called upon everyone in the audience to join our disaster relief efforts as a Red Cross volunteer. And join they did! An overwhelming 25 people signed up to help before the evening was even over!
Today, more than 70 individuals have signed up to help and a half dozen volunteers from Crenshaw Christian Center have already trained to deploy. Additionally, one volunteer from this program, Carolyn Dilqule, has been on the ground in Texas for more than a week, assisting with mass care sheltering for Hurricane Harvey.
During the last four weeks, almost the exact length of time for which I was deployed, the Red Cross and community partners have provided more than 1 million overnight stays in emergency shelters in eight states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
In order to continue to do this life-saving work, we will need more volunteers, just like our friends from Crenshaw Christian Center, to train to deploy and assist with hurricane relief efforts. Right now in Los Angeles, we have launched a series of full-day, in-person trainings to prepare new volunteers for vital disaster relief roles. And, due to the geographic areas most heavily affected by these storms, English/Spanish bi-lingual volunteers are in even more demand. If you, or someone you know is interested in training to become a Red Cross volunteer, especially if you or they speak both English and Spanish, please visit: http://www.preparesocal.org/volunteer .