The enduring fact of disasters, whether natural or man-made, is that they require recovery efforts. In these times of physical and emotional turmoil, it can be difficult to determine how to help. Volunteers On Call, Inc. believes that regardless of your age, economic status, or daily schedule, you can find a way to contribute. Contact us for more information about our suggestions below:
1. Hop a Flight
Tragedy can strike anywhere around the world. If you have the time and the means, you can provide invaluable help as a volunteer on the ground. Whether you’re clearing rubble or helping to distribute relief supplies, being an able body at the scene of a disaster is an opportunity for tremendous assistance to others. However, it is important to keep in mind that an abundance of volunteers without leadership or coordination can create a logistical nightmare for the local community. Before you hop into your car or buy a ticket, seek out an organization to participate with that can provide direction and strategic planning upon your arrival.
2. Work from Home
If you can’t make it to the site of a disaster, consider volunteering locally in honor of the tragedy. If you have time on your hands, you could organize a local day of service in tribute to the victims. An easy way to do this is to mobilize a pre-existing group (such as a religious group or social club) and contact organizations in town to see how many volunteers they can take on short notice.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
3. All About the Benjamins
Donating during a disaster can be a confusing process. Suddenly, thousands of people are in need and it seems like every nonprofit, celebrity, and individual under the sun has a relief fund. Consider donating to an organization that has a history of providing services in the region and steering away from any “pop-up” nonprofits that came about after the disaster as they often don’t have legal status and lack accountability. Many people tend to give to organizations that provide direct disaster relief services, but keep in mind that as a result of the disaster all nonprofits in the area will be experiencing an increase in demand. For example, you might consider donating to a local soup kitchen who will no doubt have more mouths to feed in the coming weeks and months. If you’re at a loss, giving to the area’s local United Way chapter is another way to make sure your funds are going where they are needed most.
If you feel more comfortable knowing exactly where your money is going, consider sponsoring a specific project at an organization in the affected region. You could also find a creative way to give back like the Californian who paid for coffee for patrons of the Newtown General Store after the Sandy Hook shooting.
4. Write a Love Letter
After any disaster, whether man-made or natural, entire communities can be left feeling shaken and vulnerable. Victims of any tragic act need to be reminded of the vast humanity there is in the world – and what better way to do that than with a love letter. The World Needs More Love Letters is a New Haven-based “organization-turned-social-movement” devoted to “lifting, empowering, and mobilizing individuals through tangible acts of love.” Writing a love letter requires no money (save for postage) and little time, but for both the author and the recipient it can mean a deep restoration of faith in mankind. Check out www.moreloveletters.com to learn how to spread the love in your own community or anywhere around the country after a disaster. And be sure to watch founder Hannah Brencher’s moving TED talk!
Do you have suggestions on ways to give back after a disaster? Let us know in the comments below!