Local Red Cross looking for volunteers

Jan. 26, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

The local American Red Cross is in desperate need of Lee County volunteers to join its Disaster Action Team.

The team volunteers assist people who’ve lost their homes in a fire, and Lee County needs to double its number of volunteers, said Abby Cameron, the disaster program manager for the central territory of the Triangle Area Chapter.

“We are looking for disaster volunteers who go to the fires and provide services to the clients,” Cameron said. “We currently have eight and we need 16 (volunteers).”

The Red Cross receives a message about a house fire and DAT volunteers respond to provide money for food, clothing, medicine, bedding and to check them into a motel, if it is needed, Cameron said.

“We are looking for someone who is compassionate and understand,” she said. “These are people who help in a disaster because this is usually the worst day of someone’s lives when a fire happens.”

The volunteers are on-call for one week out of the month, and the number of fires they respond to varies, Cameron said.

“They have to be 18 years of age and they need to contact me,” she said. “We would enter them into our computer system and, at that point, I’d do one-on-one training with them.”

People interested in offering their help can contact Cameron at (919) 723-6662.

Roberta Kraitsik is one of Lee County’s current volunteers and said the job can be stressful but it was certainly a worthwhile endeavor.

“Most of the people are just so grateful,” she said. “They are not looking for anything, and when I tell them what the Red Cross can offer, they say ‘Really? Thank you. Thank you.’”

Donna Stewart, another volunteer from Chatham County, said it's a very rewarding position. No one, she said, ever expects a fire and it's always an overwhelming experience.

"Some people, after a fire, only have their pajamas and a blanket," she said. "So the Red Cross comes in with funds from the community to share what they can to help transition them to a more normal life."