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Our 2013-2014 NPRC Team has officially graduated! Some of our members are going on to complete graduate degrees, Tony will be completing a 2nd AmeriCorps term with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, and Grant will be starting a term of service with Teach NOLA. Those of us here in the region wish them the best of luck on their adventures and look forward to meeting our next NPRC group in September. Stay tuned for information on the 2014-2015 NPRC Members!

Our 2013-2014 NPRC Team has officially graduated! Some of our members are going on to complete graduate degrees, Tony will be completing a 2nd AmeriCorps term with Rebuilding Together New Orleans, and Grant will be starting a term of service with Teach NOLA. Those of us here in the region wish them the best of luck on their adventures and look forward to meeting our next NPRC group in September. Stay tuned for information on the 2014-2015 NPRC Members!

June Update!

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Good morning, everyone!

Things have been very busy around the office this month and there has been little time to write!

 We love hearing from those of you interested in future NPRC terms, so keep up the contact! Applications are still open, so if you know anyone who might be interested in the positions, send them over. 

 In other news, hurricane season is upon us! We’ve heard a few different predictions about what to expect from the season, but if you’re anything like us we like to be prepared for anything and everything. There have been meetings galore here in South Louisiana and while our days have been extra long, we’ve learned a lot. We have been able to meet with several new volunteers and several of our deploying volunteers that we rarely get to see in person. The bigger picture of what will happen in the event of a storm is much clearer now that we’ve had nearly a year of work with the Red Cross. There are so many different organizations and government groups involved, so many people and so many different variables! This is a great place to serve if you’re looking into a career in disaster management, emergency management, etc. because we are right in the heart of hurricane planning and preparedness!

 There has been a lot of progress on the clean up front (a project run by Volunteer Services that we discussed in a previous entry) and by the end of the month we should be able to create a phone tree for all of our trained volunteers! We have been working on this project for months, so it is incredibly satisfying to see it coming to an end. 

 Speaking of ends, there are only two more weeks of the AmeriCorps term. There is an odd mixture of sadness and excitement about finishing an AmeriCorps term that is unique to the world of service. We all hope to carry the lessons we gained this year with us so that we can become more successful, patient people.

 This is an unusually short entry, but we just wanted to let you know that we’re still active and working hard! As always, please direct questions about becoming an AmeriCorps NPRC Member to our supervisor, Carolanne (Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org). We will be writing just a few more entries and then we will all be moving on to other exciting adventures! Thanks for reading =]

-The New Orleans NPRC Team

Updates: NPRC Class 2014-2015

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Good morning and happy Thursday, readers!

We know that are quite a few of you looking into the program, so we wanted to keep you in the loop! There are several changes coming to the program and announcements regarding the positions. Please keep reading for more information!

1) The NPRC applications will be open by the end of the week! Start updating your AmeriCorps application, if you haven’t already done so. If you are currently an AmeriCorps Member or have been in the recent past, having a recommendation from a Team Leader or direct supervisor is recommended.

2) The NPRC term will start the first week of September, NOT the first week of August (see #3 for the reason)

3) There has been a lot of concern in the Ameri-world about AmeriCorps insurance. Currently AmeriCorps Members do not have insurance that fulfill federal requirements (since all of the new laws have gone into effect). The NPRC is working hard to ensure that all Corps Members have adequate healthcare and we are happy to annouce that new policies will be in effect by September 1st!

4) Our departments are already working closely with eachother to come up with a detailed work plan for the term, which means no hurry up and wait situations!

5) Louisiana NPRC will be trained to serve in a wide variety of positions, but will primarily focus on one of three areas:
Preparedness & Resiliency: Education and awareness with a special focus on at-risk populations
Emergency Services: Focus will be on casework with clients affected by disasters and Service to the Armed Forces (SAF)
Capacity Building: Focus will be in two areas: Facilities (shelters) and Volunteer Services (volunteer recruitment, event coordination, etc)

6) Sub-roles will give more leadership to Corps Members (and another chance to build up resumes)
Volunteer Liaison: Will take the lead on volunteer recognition events and monthly meetings; will organize NPRC-taught classes
Development Coordinator: Will take the lead on organizing monthly volunteer activities and team building/ professional development activities (including Days of Service)
AmeriCorps Public Affairs Officer: Will take the lead on AmeriCorps social media accounts (like this blog), work with Melissa to get the press to Red Cross/ AmeriCorps events and help develop new recruitment materials (such as the brochure)

7) Just a friendly reminder that taking a Red Cross AmeriCorps position does not mean a Monday through Friday 40 hour a week position. There are many Saturday events, evening classes and disaster deployments! There will be a renewed effort, however, to give “flex time” to our members to make sure that nobody is getting burnt out!!

Well, that’s all we’ve got for you today. If you have any questions about the program, please e-mail Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org . It also can’t hurt to send an e-mail if you’re looking to apply to put your name out there as well!

Response to Recent Storms – Tornado Season 2014

2013-2014 NPRC Team, Disaster Response, Volunteer Services

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The American Red Cross responds to disasters thousands of times a year across the country. Some disasters are small and are handled by a single Chapter or Region. These disasters can be anything from a single family fire to flooding to a train derailment. Sometimes, however, the disasters are too big for the small group of trained Red Cross Volunteers. When this happens, requests go out in the national database, Volunteer Connection. First requests go out to 500 miles, then 1,000, then 1,500 etc. The first requests tend to be for things like Disaster Mental health, feeding and sheltering. Requests flood in quickly in the days after a disaster. then pop up sporadically for the next few weeks, as new volunteers replace the ones that have been deployed for two or three weeks.

So who do we send on disaster? Well, the answer is anyone that wants to go. There’s training, of course, and volunteers need to be in good health, but we send an eclectic group of old and young, professionals and retirees, college students and AmeriCorps Members. Volunteer Services assigns volunteers to a specific GAP (Group/Activity/Position such as Mass Care/Feeding/Supervisor) and disaster. Volunteer Services then meets with the volunteer to assign a staff card (for purchases) and complete paperwork. The Volunteer will then have a phone number to call to arrange travel and will leave as soon as possible.

Yesterday we assigned 7 volunteers, 1 staff member and 2 AmeriCorps Members to DR 24-2014 in Mississippi. A majority of the group will be working in feeding and took two of our Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) on the road yesterday evening. Each ERV can feed 3,000 meals a day and help with the distribution of goods such as sunscreen, bugspray, water and cleanup kits.

Pictured above is our feeding team! In order: Thomas (New Orleans DAT Captain), Julia (AmeriCorps NPRC), Beulah (long-time volunteer) and Grant (AmeriCorps NPRC).
If you’d like to be a disaster responder, contact your local chapter today! If you live in the New Orleans area, contact Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org
You can donate to the response effort online at RedCross.org, through mail at 2640 Canal Street New Orleans, LA 70119 or by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.

SOLA’s First Annual Disaster Drill

2013-2014 NPRC Team, Community Outreach, Disaster Response, Preparedness, Volunteer

SOLA's First Annual Disaster Day

In recognition of Global Youth Service Day and in preparation for the 2014 Hurricane Season, The South Louisiana Region Red Cross held a day-long disaster drill. Held in actual Red Cross shelter locations in Lake Charles, Covington and Metairie, over 150 volunteers learned to operate an emergency shelter. AmeriCorps NPRC Members acted as facilitators at all locations. We hope that this will become an annual (or even more often) event! NPRC Members joining us next year can expect to be involved in soliciting donations of food, completing shelter surveys to determine locations, recruiting participants and leading activities. Check out WWLTV’s coverage of the drill here: http://www.wwltv.com/home/Red-Cross-holds-hurricane-preparedness-drills-seeks-more-volunteers-255338151.html

Grant: My Year So Far

2013-2014 NPRC Team

Hey my name is Grant and I’m an NPRC member here in New Orleans. There’s about three months left in my term, and its been a great year. My favorite part about working with the Red Cross has been working with the Disaster Action Team, or DAT. Most of the time working with DAT means responding to fires in and around the New Orleans metro area. We respond to fires and work with the affected families so they can start their recovery. We can help by giving money for food and clothing or other essential items. We can also put the family in a hotel for a few days if they can’t stay with family or friends. This is amazing because it gives the family a little time to plan out their next move and start the process of recovery. My house burned down when I was in seventh grade, and without friends and family around to help we would have been lost. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through that experience without having close ties to anyone in the area. Through meeting each family’s immediate needs at the scene of the fire and following up throughout their recovery process, I really feel like I am making a huge difference in this community. Also, another focus of this term has been working to add new shelters and updating records on existing shelters for our region in case of a natural disaster. In the event of a hurricane this upcoming season, I will be able to rest easy knowing that thousands of people have a safe place to stay due in part to my efforts this year.

AmeriCorps is serving here!

2013-2014 NPRC Team, Disaster Response

AmeriCorps is serving here!

NOLA NPRC Members with our resident DAT Captain and “Canteen Queen.” Application time is only a month away! For more information about signing up for a year of service with the NPRC (not just in New Orleans), call (504) 620-3182 or e-mail Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org

Behind the Scenes in Volunteer Services

2013-2014 NPRC Team, Community Outreach, Disaster Response, Fire Response, NPRC Supervisor, Preparedness, Volunteer, Volunteer Services

Hello, loyal (and new) readers! Carolanne here!

I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the behind-the-scenes work that is done by the Volunteer Services Department. There are big changes going on and our plan takes a great deal of planning, execution and follow-up. Typically the sort of Red Cross work that comes to mind goes along with the unofficial AmeriCorps motto “boots on the ground,” but a lot of the work done in Volunteer Services is never seen. The work being done, however, means that we’re able to get those boots on the ground in the first place. The AmeriCorps NPRC Members are playing a big role in these changes.

Last year was a (pleasantly) quiet hurricane season here in Louisiana, which gave us the chance to regroup and really put some thought into planning for the future. While we hope that the quickly approaching 2014 hurricane season will be just as peaceful, you can never be too careful. In order to be able to respond both pre and post disaster, we need to know our volunteer base. How many volunteers would we need to effectively respond to a Category 1 storm? What about a Category 3? Category 5? You need people to talk to work staffing, logistics, public relations- you need multiple shelter workers on multiple shifts at who knows how many locations, plus people to take their place every so often so your volunteers get a day off. You need volunteers to cook and give out food, volunteers that represent the ARC in meetings with other organizations, volunteers to recruit, fundraise and complete a myriad of other tasks. Long story short- we need a lot of volunteers. Bold, underlined and exclamation point. The more local volunteers we have trained, ready and willing to help, the more time and money we can put to our community- it means flying in less people from other parts of the country and lets the local people run the local disaster.

Right now we have about 1,200 volunteers in Southeast Louisiana. What we are undertaking between now and June 1st (the beginning of hurricane season) is a complete overhaul of our volunteer database. That means reaching out to every single one of those 1,200 volunteers. We’re confirming information we already have (such as correct contact information), figuring out who is a disaster responder, what roles each person would like to play and what training courses are missing. In addition to that information, we are simultaneously linking every volunteer profile with their Red Cross training account, cleaning up and creating opportunities and making sure that every one of volunteers has current Red Cross identification.

It’s a lot of work, right? It might not be the most interesting project or the most public or entertaining, but what the team is working on right now is priceless. Once this overhaul is complete, we will know exactly how many volunteers we have, what groups we need to recruit for, what trainings to offer our community and we will be ready for anything. This is the building block for every other change coming to Volunteer Services, from logging hours to recognizing volunteers for their contributions in new and exciting ways to using our website as a hub of information for each disaster career path. I think that this is a beautiful beginning to using our database and our volunteers to their greatest potential.

Working hand in hand with other departments, we will be engaging these volunteers in many new events, including our upcoming (and first annual) Hurricane Drill. We will also use the information we gather to create new ways to keep our volunteers engaged and fresh. For example, our Mardi Gras volunteers can have the chance to practice their first aid skills during other city-wide festivals and our Red Cross Clubs can take on a DAT group of their own.

Great things are happening behind the scenes here in South Louisiana. It is an amazing feeling to be part of something so big and useful. While the first step of this (the clean-up of our system) will be done during this AmeriCorps term, there will be a lot to be done afterwards. Will you be part of the Volunteer Services drive to be better prepared, have a better relationship with our volunteers and engage our community?

To volunteer or find out more about becoming an AmeriCorps NPRC Member, contact me at (504) 620-3182 or at Carolanne.Fernandez@RedCross.org