LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The American Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter is always searching for volunteers, but the coronavirus pandemic has made the need even more urgent.
"The coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country should an emergency occur,” Executive Director of the American Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter Lynne Washbish said. “The Red Cross is asking you to be ready to help your community. Train now to be a Red Cross volunteer and answer the call to help if the need arises here in our region."
Volunteers are needed for a range of things like casework, registration and disaster services. Volunteers are especially needed to assist in sheltering efforts. When possible, the Red Cross places clients in hotels rather than a traditional shelter to increase safety in regard to COVID-19.
The Kentucky Region's Senior Volunteer Recruitment specialist Stacy Taylor-Bernard said this has increased the need for volunteers because sheltering in hotels requires more assistance.
"Hotels provide a safer environment, but along with that safer environment, we're not having the large populations that we would in the congregate shelters,” Taylor-Bernard said. “So it takes more volunteers to work with those clients and make sure their needs are being met in times of disaster."
Volunteers are needed for staffing shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and more. Associate and supervisory level opportunities are available.
To help keep people safe during the pandemic, the Red Cross said additional measures have been added and special training has been developed for shelter volunteers.
Healthcare workers are also needed in shelters to assess people's health, including watching for COVID-19 symptoms. Specifically, the Red Cross is looking for: RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO, or PA with an active, current, and unencumbered license.
For those who do not want to volunteer in person, there are many opportunities to volunteer virtually.
"In a virtual opportunity, we have folks that doing some of the follow-up work in disaster response because once the disaster happens we still follow up with those folks to make sure that needs are being met, so we're always looking for caseworkers," Taylor-Bernard said. "We're looking for folks on the scheduling end of things for blood drives. We're looking for folks to help us with volunteer recruitment, so there's a wide variety of opportunities."
The Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter is hosting virtual Open Houses for those interested in volunteering from noon to 1 p.m. Aug. 19, and from 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 20.
To register or to ask questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.