United Way seeks to create disaster preparedness volunteer program

— The United Way of the Adirondack Region, Inc. is embarking on a new phase of volunteerism: a seven county-­wide priority to develop a disaster-­specific volunteer program within the North Country Regional Volunteer Center (NCRVC).

The Disaster Preparedness Program will use the existing NCRVC infrastructure to expand and coordinate disaster volunteer resources, and engage New Yorkers to serve in times of need.

“The North Country is fortunate to have so many agencies and individuals who want to contribute,” said John Bernardi, Executive Director of the United Way of the Adirondack Region. “What we saw during Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene was a very compassionate response from volunteers, and also a need for skilled volunteers who have received disaster-­specific training. We want volunteers to be able to contribute to their fullest potential.”

While many local organizations have agreed to offer volunteers and/or resources in the event of an emergency, the degree to which each entity is prepared to help and has a specific Disaster Preparedness Plan varies.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is enthusiastic about this expanded, comprehensive volunteer resource.

“The Disaster Preparedness Program will collaborate with Federal and State government and voluntary, faith-­based, and community entities on a regional level to provide training, resources and skilled volunteer recruitment to the counties in our region,” Duprey said. “This is a useful endeavor with the potential to benefit everyone.”

North Country Regional Volunteer Center includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. With support and guidance from both the State Commission Office and the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the resulting disaster plans will allow the North Country Regional Volunteer Center, in conjunction with the United Way of the Adirondack Region, to ensure that volunteers in northern New York State are prepared to respond effectively and immediately in times of crisis.

Organizations and individuals interested in getting involved can contact the United Way of the Adirondack Region at ­563-­0028 or call 2-­1-1 for information and referral.

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