MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

January 10, 2014

Red Cross needs your help

Local chapter serves 120,000 people in three counties

American Red Cross volunteer Virginia Hollar says the feeling of helping people after a tragedy is hard to express.

“I don’t know how to describe it, it feels good,” Hollar said. “Sometimes I cry right along with them.

“It feels good to be a part of something that can help immediately. It is rewarding to get that thank you and that hug.”

Hollar and her husband, Terry, are among those who volunteer for the Red Cross in Muskogee, Cherokee and Adair counties.

The Red Cross needs more help, said the director of its local chapter.

“We are relying on about 15 volunteers,” Ryan Hardaway said. “We have three counties and around 120,000 people to serve.”

Hardaway said the agency responds to an average of more than 100 fires per year.

“We helped 71 families last year just in Muskogee County,” Hardaway said.

The Red Cross responds to give assistance and hope when someone loses everything to a fire or some natural disaster.

“You’re going to give them a game plan to recover,” Hardaway said. “Here’s the road map to recovery, and we’re going to get started right now.”

There are three requirements to become a volunteer:

• Be available three days per month.

• Have a current driver’s license.

• Pass a background check.

The volunteer chooses what days they would be able to volunteer each month and if a disaster happens on that day they may be called to respond. If there is no disasters on the day the volunteer picked, then no response is required.

Volunteers will be members in training when they begin. If they are called to respond, they will go with an experienced member.

“While they are learning in the field they are taking classes,” Hardaway said.

The volunteers will learn how to perform damage assessments and interview families to determine their needs.

After completing training and the required four to five classes they become members and will be able to respond on their own.

The first step to volunteering is filling out the volunteer application online at http://redcross.org/Tulsa/volunteer, Hardaway said.

The next step is a background check and then picking the days to volunteer from an online calendar.

Completion of classes and becoming a member has no deadline.

“Some people get it done in a month, some people it may take up to a year or two years. It’s all up to the volunteer,” Hardaway said.

The only out-of-pocket expense is the gasoline to get to the response site, and that is tax deductible.

“They can also drive the Red Cross vehicle,” Hardaway said.

Virginia Hollar said she and her husband moved to the Muskogee area in 2009.

“We just moved here from Illinois and was kind of bored,” she said. “I went up to the Red Cross office.”

She decided to volunteer and then recruited her husband.

“It was a good way to meet people and learn the area,” she said.

The Hollars stay busy volunteering.

“We are retired, so we do most of the fires and pick up the slack when we can,” she said.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.

You can help

For information on becoming an American Red Cross volunteer in Muskogee, Cherokee and Adair counties, contact Ryan Hardaway at (918) 682-1366 or www.redcross.org/Tulsa/volunteer.

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