SE Iowa volunteers receive training

American Red Cross volunteers in Iowa attend a training before heading out on their latest mission. Iowa’s Red Cross is sending people, supplies and money to Houston. Red Cross Sr. Volunteer Services Recruitment Specialist is looking for more red cross volunteers to serve in Wapello County.

OTTUMWA — Last year, the Red Cross responded to 20 home fires in Wapello County and assisted residents affected by the fires.

Sr. Volunteer Services Recruitment Specialist Lori Talbott said more incidences of home fires happen between November and February, which makes the need for Red Cross volunteers more important.

“We want volunteers in Wapello County to bolster up that work force,” Talbott said. “We want them to really serve the unexpected things that happen. There’s a tangible need for volunteers to help those who have a home fire.”

Volunteers in Wapello County have dwindled since the Red Cross building in Ottumwa closed. There are a few active volunteers serving in Wapello County, but Talbott needs more.

Talbott said they can help with installing smoke alarms, blood drives, give CPR and support the military. No matter what a volunteer chooses, the need for volunteers will not change.

“We want to make an effort to replenish our workforce,” she said, “and target those with different population sizes. Refresh those in the area and volunteers working and supporting them with more people and support them for the better.”

Although closest Red Cross building is in Des Moines, volunteers are not expected to make frequent trips to Des Moines for training. Training can be done online and varies in length.

“Volunteers can use five hours a month or zero hours a month, depending on what is happening with Wapello County,” she said.

A volunteer also has to pass a screening process. Regardless of the time commitment and the challenges and obstacles that can come with training, Talbott said it is worth pursuing because of the difference a volunteer can make.

“Being a responder to a home fire you have to comfort and help them,” she said. “A team member may offer a shoulder to cry on, help provide immediate needs, and connect people with long term recovery services. Most important, Red Cross volunteers ensure that families don’t have to face tough times alone. It allows you to look on the other side of things and see how rewarding it can be.”

To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities or to get involved in service, you can go to www.redcross.org/ia or call Lori Talbott at (515)246-6314.

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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