Op-Ed

Volunteers ready for disasters

More than 450 people attend the disaster summit held Jan. 23, 2016, at Whatcom Middle School.
More than 450 people attend the disaster summit held Jan. 23, 2016, at Whatcom Middle School. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Volunteer Mobilization Center was established in 2014 and had about 150 volunteers in 2015.

Purpose: When a disaster happens in Whatcom County, hundreds of us show up to help, that’s just what we do. Join the Volunteer Mobilization Center team to be part of organizing this effort that helps our neighbors in our community. The Volunteer Mobilization Center is a reception and referral center for spontaneous volunteers who respond to disasters. The center’s purpose is to register volunteers as state emergency workers and to coordinate volunteers with emergency response agencies. The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County is an unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the parent organization for the Volunteer Mobilization Center. We meet monthly with special speakers, video and special trainings all around the issue of disaster preparedness.

Volunteer highlights: The first disaster summit was held at Whatcom Middle School this past January, 2016, with over 450 in attendance. Our distinguished panel of speakers included heads of emergency services from Whatcom County, City of Bellingham, along with CERT, American Red Cross, and Map My Neighborhood. At the summit, speakers discussed how to prepare for a disaster. In June, 2016, the VMC is working with Whatcom County and other groups in the Cascadia Rising scenario in which a 9.0 earthquake strikes the Northwest coastline.

Signature fundraiser: Disaster Summit, January/February 2017.

Wish list: We need a free meeting room to hold 30-40 people, including about 10 six-foot conference tables, to be used for about 2-3 hours about 2 times per month, for the next couple of years.

Current volunteer needs: We welcome new volunteers on the fourth Monday of every month; from 6-8 p.m. at the Center for Spiritual Living, 2224 Yew Street Road. No special skills needed. Call 360-734-3055.

For more information, go online to WhatcomVolunteer.org/Disaster.

VOLUNTEER MONTH

April is National Volunteer Month and The Bellingham Herald has partnered with the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County to highlight local non-profit agencies that offer opportunities to become involved in our community. For more information online about the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, go to whatcomvolunteer.org.

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