Red Cross Practices Shelter Skills

IMG_20140329_101748_534The American Red Cross North Jersey Region conducted a shelter operations workshop on March 29 at the Fairfield Community Center in Fairfield.

The workshop was designed as a new training tool to enhance the Shelter Fundamentals course all Red Cross shelter workers are required to complete. More than 20 Red Crossers attended the workshop to gain hands-on shelter operations experience. New shelter workers learned skills critical to operating a well-organized and effective shelter, including shelter registration, dormitory management, feeding and client information.

“Hands-on training is the best method of learning shelter functions,” said Lauri Gill, North Jersey Region Mass Care Manager. “It provides our volunteers with the skills and tools to be able to easily assimilate during a real sheltering situation. This workshop gives people more confidence so they will be better equipped to serve our clients when that time comes.”

Having trained volunteers in the community allows for the quick mobilization of disaster responders during an emergency. During large scale disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy, local volunteers are among the first to assist their neighbors and their community until additional support arrives.

“This workshop is one of many steps the Red Cross is taking to elevate the disaster resiliency capacity in our region,” said North Jersey Regional Disaster Officer Steven Sarinelli.

IMG_20140329_101844_142Red Cross shelters are staffed around-the-clock by teams of volunteers working 8- to 12-hour shifts. While providing a place to stay for those displaced, shelters also become a source for information, meals, health services and emotional support for all affected.

In addition to sheltering, mass care includes a variety of services to support those affected by disaster, including feeding, distribution of emergency supplies and family reunification services.

“Mass care sheltering is one of our key response activities on every level of disasters – from multi-family fires to hurricanes,” said Linda de Quintal, Manager, North Jersey Region Disaster Workforce Engagement Support. “Having more of our disaster volunteers trained to perform in this capacity is beneficial to any response.”

The American Red Cross responds to disasters every day. Whether it’s helping one displaced family or thousands the response is made possible due to compassionate volunteers. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that the Red Cross can do extraordinary things. For more information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer visit or contact Kaitlin Bessemer at 973-579-1600.

By Disaster Support Functions Director Michael Prasad

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