Red Cross in need of Kingman volunteers

KINGMAN - March is American Red Cross Month and the organization is looking for more volunteers in the Kingman area.

"We need more local volunteers," said Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter Communications Manager Tracey Kiest. There are currently 25 active Red Cross Volunteers in Mohave County but only five live in the Kingman area.

"Five sounds sufficient but when people go out of town or are unavailable for other reasons, it makes things difficult," said Volunteer Coordinator and Instructor Michele Maki. "We try to be on the scene of an incident within one hour. When you have to pull people from Bullhead or Lake Havasu, it means a longer response time. The more local people we have the quicker the response."

According to a news release, in 2010 the Grand Canyon Chapter responded to 548 disasters, 94 percent of which were fires; assisted 768 families; provided 2,411 nights of emergency shelter; 16,547 meals and snacks at disasters; and provided an average of $538 in direct financial assistance to families.

It also provided

outreach and pre-deployment services for nearly 4,500 military families, relayed emergency messages from more than 1,700 military members and families, and provided financial aid for 46 active-duty military members and their families.

Mohave County Red Cross volunteers responded to 36 disasters in the county last year and helped out 108 people, according to a news release. They did not respond to the Beaver Dam flooding in December - a sister chapter in Las Vegas responded to that emergency because they were closer.

"When there is a huge disaster people want to help. The Red Cross is flooded with calls from people asking what they can do to help, but they need training in order to be truly helpful," said Maki. "Part of this is being prepared before a disaster strikes so you can respond properly. If you can join ahead and get the training you can be more of a help. This is more than just passing out blankets." she said.

Volunteers not only respond to disasters and fires but also man offices; answer phones; do case work; set up and teach First Aid, CPR and preparedness courses; do community outreach at events such as the county fair or health fairs; update resource lists; set up shelters and organize supplies.

"We try to match a volunteer's background and skills to something they have an interest in," Kiest said. "Ninety-six percent of our workforce is volunteers."

"Whatever their interest or skill level, we have a place for them," Maki said.

"We have people of all types and ages volunteer," said Western Arizona Program Manager Victoria Sutak. "We have retired people, people who work full-time jobs and youths."

There is even a special program that coordinates with schools to encourage youth to join, Maki said. The program not only teaches the students First Aid and CPR but also keeps them involved in their community and how to communicate with adults. The organization also offers baby-sitting classes.

Last year, the organization sponsored 10 Red Cross clubs with 112 members in the Grand Canyon Chapter, which includes Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz,, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal Yavapai and Yuma counties.

Residents interested in joining the Red Cross can attend a volunteer recruitment event at 6 p.m., March 21 at the Kingman Regional Medical Center's Del E. Webb Wellness Center, 1719 E. Beverly Ave. New volunteers are also welcome to attend any of the organization's regular meetings at KRMC. They meet at 6 p.m. every third Monday of the month. For more information, contact Sutak at (928) 453-5410 or vsutak@arizonaredcross.org.