(Working at the shelter)
The Camp Fire has left tens of thousands of people suddenly homeless and many folks barely escaped with the clothes on there back. They urgently need help. The upside is we were fairly well prepared. We have many shelters offering food, a bed and safety. Most shelters are providing clothing and many necessary items.
What’s it like to be a volunteer? Well, a volunteer at a Red Cross shelter can be called upon to do many things, sometimes unusual or unexpected things, but its all good. Sometimes you hand out food, sometimes its clothing, other times it might be produce from the back end of a truck, whatever comes in that people need, goes out pretty fast and somebody has to help make it happen. That’s what our group did all day long.
Fortunately, there was an abundance of food, clothing, toiletries and the helpers to sort it all out. All thanks to the generosity of our community and of course the skilled Red Cross volunteers. Businesses, every day people all contributed something, it was wonderful to see so many giving so much.
I can’t express in words what that meant to these survivors to see this outpouring of help. And I imagine this is taking place in shelters all over Chico, Gridley, Oroville and more. At the high point I know we had 52,000 displaced people, a few have returned home, but most haven’t, so we have a lot of people to help.
Today, many of my fellow volunteers (including a lot of retirees) that were working at the (Chico Elks) shelter were ready to call it a day by 6 PM. But, some of the others were still going strong as I left, I can’t imagine where they got the stamina? Volunteers get physically and emotionally drained faster in a crisis situation than otherwise. But, it’s more than worth it, because at the end of the day you go home knowing in some small way you made a difference.
A volunteer’s smile, directing a survivor to the right table for assistance or perhaps listening to a survivors story, well, it just helps off set some of the sadness. So you don’t have to be an expert in shelter management. I’ll be back tomorrow and so will hundreds of others and we’ll keep coming back as long as they need us.
Would you like to be a volunteer? Then go to your nearest shelter and tell them you want to help. This is going to be a long process, so if they have enough volunteers one day, come back the next. I guarantee you will be needed.,