The Edmond Sun

June 17, 2013

Red Cross seeks volunteers to aid in Moore storm recovery

Edmond woman typifies Red Cross volunteers

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Before arriving in Oklahoma last year, Edmond resident Sofia Griffith already had a growing Red Cross volunteer résumé.

Griffith is married to Paul Griffith, a retiring maintenance officer at Tinker Air Force Base. Since 2007, she has volunteered at a medical lab in England, in human resources working in Japan and as an administrative aide in a medical lab at Tinker.

On May 20, after the EF-5 tornado left a wide path of devastation in Moore, Griffith felt called once again, this time to serve her fellow Oklahomans. That evening, she went down to Moore where she was told there were already enough helpers.

The following day, a Tuesday, she went back to Moore and was astonished to see what appeared to be thousands of citizens waiting to volunteer for the American Red Cross Central and Western Oklahoma Region chapter.

“I was so impressed with how quickly the people of Oklahoma wanted to help the Red Cross,” Griffith said. “It was an emotional moment for me.”

Since she was already trained, Griffith went into action in her pickup, which was used often to shuttle items — especially bottled water — to agencies and organizations stationed at the Home Depot command center and into the disaster zone.

To her surprise, people approached her and donated a cooler with food from McDonald’s. In turn, she approached a group of people. She asked if they needed food or water. Among them was a man in his 20s who had just been rescued.

Griffith said as a volunteer she seeks to give and accepts nothing in return. The focus is always on the individuals who need help, she said.

“I love what I do with the Red Cross,” she said.

Five Red Cross Multi-Agency Resource Centers were opened to serve the thousands of people affected by the tornadoes of May 19, 20 and 31 in the Oklahoma City area.

Red Cross regional spokesman Ken Garcia said the centers in Moore, Shawnee, Little Axe, El Reno and Carney brought together dozens of organizations under one roof to serve these families by providing resources, supplies and information, saving the families the time and trouble of going to many different locations to get help.

Volunteers are needed to help assist with data entry in the Multi-Agency Resource Centers, Garcia said. Caseworkers currently have more than 4,000 cases open and have helped more than 14,100 people through casework, he said.

“There was a surge of volunteers following the tornadoes and now we need that help again,” Garcia said.

Volunteers in the centers act as greeters, guides and assistants to individuals and families coming in to meet with the Red Cross and other partner agencies, Garcia said. Volunteers are also needed to help with casework data entry. Due to the nature of this job, basic computer skills and knowledge are required. Also, a cleared background check is required.

There are a number of shifts available, Garcia said.

“This is an extremely important service the Red Cross delivers to people affected by the storms and we appreciate in advance your commitment to helping these individuals,” he said.

Individuals wishing to volunteer may can call 571-205-3266 or 571-205-3551 or register online at www.redcross.org/ok/oklahoma-city/volunteer.

Although the American Red Cross is not a government agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, the Red Cross was chartered by Congress to “carry on a system of national and international relief.”

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121