American Red Cross searches for volunteers

Jose Ortega and Melody Armendariz at the American Red Cross center, located at 781 Broadway Street in El Centro.

EL CENTRO - The American Red Cross is dedicated to providing assistance to disaster victims across the nation through volunteer work and donations and has several programs and partners to help accomplish its goals.

The California AmeriCorps Disaster Team is an AmeriCorps national service program that trains volunteers throughout California to respond to disasters, provide relief, and contribute to their communities. The American Red Cross has partnered with the AmeriCorps Disaster Team to train chosen volunteers.

Jose Ortega, Disaster Program manager with the American Red Cross, provides aid for disasters in Imperial and San Diego county areas. He is currently looking for volunteers to apply for the California AmeriCorps Disaster Team program.

The California AmeriCorps Disaster Team is is in need of volunteers for an 11 month program, in which selected candidates throughout the state will be trained to aid in disaster relief.  One applicant will be chosen from Imperial County and three from San Diego County.

The program is a volunteer opportunity that qualifies selected candidates for state assistance and more than five thousand dollars in grants for education purposes. Upon completion of 1700 hours and deployment to at least one state disaster, the candidates will be compensated with $15 thousand.

“The program is designed to help people in the community. We’re hoping for one person to stay on board, transfer from AmeriCorps, and become a full volunteer,” said Ortega.

Partnered with approximately 400 other volunteers, Ortega assists victims of house fires, flooding caused by burst pipes, and high wind storm damage.

“The American Red Cross is here to provide safe shelter, food, emergency relief supplies, emotional support, health services, and recovery assistances,” said Ortega.

Ortega hopes that by providing training, volunteers will be better prepared to handle disasters in the community. Fire safety and preparedness is important and many volunteers aspire to provide the community with installations of smoke detectors.

“About every 24 hours we receive a call about someone losing their home due to a home fire. One of the things that we’re doing is we’re really looking at pushing preparedness and awareness. The reality is once someone loses their home, it doesn’t just affect them financially, it affects them emotionally,” said Ortega.

Ortega was thankful to all the volunteers and everyone that made donations to the American Red Cross. Without these assets, Ortega said, they wouldn’t be able to help communities throughout the nation. His hope is people will not only apply for the California AmeriCorps position, but that they will also volunteer with American Red Cross.