Disaster volunteers urgently needed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Faye Byrum, executive director of the Suffolk Chapter of the American Red Cross, is looking for volunteers to provide help for others in need. There is a great demand for people who would give of their time to act as translators, and for volunteers who can join the agency’s &uot;Disaster Action Team (DAT)&uot; and the &uot;Disaster Services Human Resource (DSHR) System.&uot; Volunteers may help save others in the event of a local or national disaster.

&uot;We need volunteers for the local DAT who could help families who have lost their homes and their belongings to disaster,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;The American Red Cross and its volunteers are usually among the first people to respond to a disaster area. In Suffolk, the most common type of disaster is the residential fire. Last year, DAT volunteers responded to the needs of 45 families in Suffolk.&uot;

Byrum added that volunteers help families through a devastating time by ensuring they have shelter, food and clothing.

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&uot;Being a DAT or DSHR member is exciting and rewarding,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;You may never work harder or get paid less, but it will be the best job you never got paid to do! Your volunteer services to either of these agencies could help someone recover from a disaster that has taken a terrible toll on their lives.&uot;

Members of DAT must be compassionate and have a willingness to help other people. Of course, basic training to become a volunteer of DAT is provided.

The Suffolk Chapter of Red Cross is providing that free training in a Disaster Weekend Training Seminar, scheduled for Oct. 18-20, at the Nansemond-Suffolk Rescue Squad.

The Red Cross is also seeking people who are bilingual so that they may serve as interpreters to people speaking foreign languages.

&uot;We need your name in our American Red Cross Language Bank if you speak an alternate language and like helping others,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;Many Suffolk families speak languages other than English and in some instances, they are not receiving needed services because of the language barrier.&uot;

Byrum also noted that the Red Cross is a humanitarian agency, led by volunteers providing relief to victims of disasters and they also help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergency situations. Information on the DAT weekend training, or volunteering to act as an interpreter is available by calling Byrum at 539-6645.