Red Cross: Answer the call -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Red Cross: Answer the call

February 6, 2007

Albany--  Tornadoes in Florida last week, bitter cold in the midwest and northeast this week. In a disaster, people turn to the Red Cross for help and the Red Cross turns to its volunteers. But sometimes there's not many to turn to in our area.

The Albany Red Cross Chapter only has three trained certified disaster volunteers. They're trying to get more people to answer the call.

It's simple for Red Cross volunteer Arthur Shipley. "I enjoy helping people," said Shipley. His passion for helping people began during the Albany flood of '94. That's when he answered the call.  He hasn't hung up since and for a good reason.

"This is a way that an average citizen can get out there and do something to help," said Shipley.

Shipley is one of about 200 average citizens or Southwest Georgia American Cross volunteers who actively respond to local disasters.

"Disaster is a large part of what we do," said Disaster Fundraising Director Michael Brown. But here's the problem.

"We are low on volunteers. We need volunteers right now," said Brown.  Brown says there was an outpouring of people wanting to help during Hurricane Katrina.  That's changed now.

"A lot of the folks that volunteered for Katrina have moved on," said Brown.

"With a lot of our population, some of our volunteers service people have aged and moved on and decided you know, going out on disaster assignments is a little more than what they want to deal with right now," said Interim Director Lori Rosen.

And the number of people who are able to drop everything at the drop of a dime and head to nationwide disasters for sometimes weeks at a time? That number is very low.

"We have just a handful right now," said Rosen. That's why Interim Director Lori Rosen says the time is now to get new, fresh faces into the American Red Cross doors for training and out to help.

"Before disaster strikes and before the need is on us," said Rosen.

"Anytime you see a disaster, you don't have to ask Red Cross to be there, they just show up," said Shipley. Shipley has been showing up with water, warm blankets and Red Cross care for more than ten years. Although it isn't a paid job, he gets something else in return.

"The payment is the satisfaction," said Shipley. He's satisfied with knowing that he continues to answer the call.

"As long as I can hang in there," said Shipley. He urges others to pick up on the ability to help others pick up the pieces.

And it's not just volunteers.  The organization says they need more capital money for volunteers to do their job. Since Hurricane Katrina, Rosen says local chapter funds have gone drastically low.

Volunteer training is free and you choose what area you'd like to help with. For information on donating time or financial assistance, call the local Red Cross at 229-436-4845 or you can drop in at the office at 500 Pine Avenue.