Red Cross needs volunteers, offers training opportunities

Red Cross needs volunteers, offers training opportunities

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The American Red Cross in Louisiana continues to prepare for flood threats, in addition to the more typical flood-related needs in spring.

The Red Cross team has been closely working with state and local officials, partners and communities to prepare for the needs that might arise a result of winter storms and floods upriver. The nonprofit also is recruiting volunteers and offering training for new and more experienced volunteers.

"While we urge our neighbors living in communities threatened by these floodwaters to keep informed about conditions and remain prepared, we encourage those who can serve to join our team," said Merri Alessi, executive director of the Red Cross in the Louisiana Capital Area. "Come out for training and be ready to help when the time comes."

Volunteers constitute about 90 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, most of them home and apartment fires.

The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. Our needs are often specific based on current events and levels of ground support, but the opportunities year-round are diverse.

The upcoming classes focus on the activities most needed during and after a disaster, such as how to operate a shelter and perform disaster assessments.

Shelter/Feeding Fundamentals introduces the guidelines and procedures for setting up, running and closing a shelter during a disaster. Wednesday, Jan. 13, 6-9 p.m. American Red Cross, 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd., Baton Rouge.

Disaster Assessment Fundamentals prepares participants to conduct Detailed Damage Assessments accurately, efficiently and safely when assigned to a disaster response. Thursday, Jan. 14. Two offerings: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. American Red Cross, 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd., Baton Rouge.

Louisiana residents often will respond after a disaster, but it's critical to register and receive training in advance so that response is not delayed. Trained human resources allow Louisiana to take care of itself, and decrease the need of others to respond from out of the area, which takes time.

"The great thing about it is anybody can take training and go help," said Clay Smilie, who volunteers with his wife. "Anyone who wants to serve can. Whether retired or working, you can help. The only qualification is the willingness to help others during a time of need."

Questions about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or serving? Contact Jodi Tolliver at or (504) 620-3130.