Red Cross looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers to help with hurricane relief efforts
21 Red Cross volunteers from Virginia are on the ground in Florida to help residents recover
HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Teams from the American Red Cross are working with their state and local partners on the ground in Florida to provide food and shelter to those impacted by Hurricane Ian.
21 Virginia Red Cross volunteers were deployed to Florida to help with this team effort.
“This response from the Red Cross perspective is not going to be days, it’s not going to be weeks, it’s going to be months,” said Jonathan McNamara, a Virginia Red Cross spokesperson.
McNamara said their relief efforts would adapt based on the current needs and possibly change once damage assessments are complete in Florida.
“We’ll have a bigger picture of what the full scope of the response is going to be for the Red Cross,” McNamara said.
This means additional teams would be deployed to Florida, including volunteers who can speak Spanish.
“This is particularly important as we’re dealing with a response in the state of Florida due to these substantial amount of Hispanic residents impacted by the storm,” said McNamara.
This is why the American Red Cross is looking for as many people as possible with a Spanish-speaking background to help with their efforts on the ground. McNamara said this allows their teams to develop trust with their residents.
“The more comfortable you are with a responder, the more comfortable you are in terms of being able to understand the messages being communicated, the better relationship you can have,” he said.
In addition to this, McNamara said this allows for their teams to be able to communicate resources for disaster recovery effectively to residents.
“If you can imagine, you’re dealing with insurance, you’re dealing with losing your home potentially, and these are types of things that somebody who speaks the native language of these communities can be able to more effectively communicate,” he said.
Mildred Perez, a Red Cross volunteer, also believes this provides an extended line of trust and communication with the Hispanic community.
“We want to be sure they have the help they deserve,” Perez told NBC12. “It’s not the same when we offer something they don’t understand, and we really want they [them to] feel like they are important and they care.”
A mission the Red Cross is dedicated to accomplishing with help from their volunteers and other organizations on the ground.
“When you’re dealing with a situation where there’s high anxiety, high stress, and that’s where we found making sure our responders reflect the communities we serve is such a priority for the Red Cross,” McNamara said.
Over the next couple of months, the American Red Cross is looking for volunteers to help with hurricane relief efforts. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, click here.
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