Friday, October 25, 2013

How Can You Help After a Disaster or Emergency?

During the aftermath of an emergency or disaster many individuals feel compelled to help.  Recovery from a disaster is difficult without the help of volunteers and donations to fill the gaps that often still exist after insurance reimbursement and government sponsored disaster assistance.  While volunteerism and donations come from the best of intentions, they are not always given in a way that is best suited to help the affected community.  If you or anyone you know is considering volunteering after a disaster, keep in mind that the best volunteers are affiliated with an organization.  Becoming part of a recognized organization prior to an incident allows the responding entity to better incorporate volunteers into the response and recovery effort.  Many people’s lives do not allow for them to volunteer their time so they contribute in the form of donations.  Monetary donations are always the best way to give, unless otherwise specified by an affected community.   When goods are donated to an affected community, it becomes their responsibility to manage those items and determine the most appropriate way to distribute, which requires the use of already limited resources. 

Virginia is supported by partnership of non-governmental agencies, called the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).  Visit the VA VOAD website to learn more about the organizations in the partnership.

Also make sure you give wisely.  A few organizations exist to keep track of charitable organizations.  The Better Business Bureau has a Wise Giving Alliance and tips on making smart contributions.  Other resources such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and GuideStar are also available to assist in determining the best way to donate. 

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