Web posted Thursday, April 4, 2002

Red Cross classes should build up volunteer base

When a winter storm knocked out power to hundreds last Christmas, the disaster revealed more than the value of owning a generator.

After the American Red Cross struggled to find enough volunteers to staff a shelter set up during the week-long power outage, a need for Red Cross training in the southern peninsula was identified.

Ruhiyyih Baker and Anita Harry, working in conjunction with the American Red Cross office in Kenai, are organizing several training classes this month for those who wish to become Red Cross volunteers.

The training starts with an orientation and Introduction to Disaster Services and Mass Care Training class offered 7-9 p.m. Friday or 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Faith Lutheran Church. This class is a prerequisite to future training. On April 13, a Family Services class will be offered with a time and location to be announced. On Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, a Shelter Management training class will be offered. Many of the classes include video presentations and workbooks.

Baker said she became interested in helping to organize the training after realizing the need during the December storm.

"We live in an area where things could happen at any moment," she said. "We need volunteers."

Eventually, Baker said, the Red Cross hopes to have managers in the area who can coordinate resources.

"It doesn't matter how old (or young) you are, you can always help your community," she said.

Baker said one group of volunteers has already gone through the training in Homer, and additional classes may be held in the future if there is more interest.

For more information, call 235-6331 or call the American Red Cross at 262-4541.