Even during pandemic, Northern Ohio volunteers deploy to help those affected by disasters

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 21, 2020- For the past six months, we have faced a new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have learned to make kitchen tables into offices and classrooms, learned to celebrate birthdays by standing in our front yards and wave as well-wishers drive by and we have even learned to make wearing masks when shopping or eating at a restaurant our new normal. However, one thing that has not changed, despite the pandemic – disasters do not stop, which means the American Red Cross will be there to support residents and communities affected.

This year’s disaster season has already been historically active. In any year, this is a cause for concern, but with a pandemic, the stakes are increased as the logistics are more difficult and there is an extra layer of safety that needs to be taken into consideration.

John Lavelle: “The tall building is our headquarters, the stained glass window is by Grant Wood, this is one of Cedar Rapids pride and joys.”

While the Red Cross continues to follow CDC guidelines, as well as implementing addtional protocols to keep disaster workers and residents safe, it is thanks to our selfless volunteers that we can continue to perform our mission.

Photo credit- John Lavelle, American Red Cross volunteer

Last week, a derecho devastated parts of Iowa. To assist with the Red Cross response, the Northern Ohio Region deployed 5 disaster volunteers. One of the volunteers that deployed was John Lavelle. John is from Avon Lake and a member of the North Central Ohio Chapter.

While in Iowa, John provided his thoughts and observation on the Red Cross’ disaster response:

“The area of disaster is so large that my job is to go out and find people that need help. We get connected that people have been given no assistance and my task is to go out and find them. I’m mostly working with isolated trailer parks and the destruction to them is immense. We find people living in tents and our immediate objective is to get them housing.”

Are you healthy and willing to travel, when necessary, to lend a helping hand? Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday for more information and to apply to become a volunteer.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After a long day, shelter client Grace takes a nap knowing she is supported and cared for. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Are you unable to deploy but you have an interest to help local communities and residents in need? Don’t worry! We have positions like blood donor ambassador that will allow you to spread the Red Cross’ mission and help others while being close to home.

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