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Partner Services Volunteers Encourage Collaboration Before and During Disaster
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By Melanie Finke, Communications Manager, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
June 15, 2009
“Partner services is very much an action-filled activity. You’re doing things, making things happen, solving problems in a disaster.” This is how volunteer Briana Taylor describes her work in partner services. Many volunteers and employees working with partners would agree. As a humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter works closely with government agencies, non-profit and faith-based organizations and a variety of businesses everyday to both respond to disaster and to get the community prepared for disaster.

Partner services volunteers act as liaisons between the Red Cross and the hundreds of agencies and organizations we work with each year. Activities range from building relationships with the city and county police, fire and emergency response departments to working with community centers, churches and other non-profit organizations to enable them to act as shelters or provide feeding services in case of emergency.

Partner services volunteers also focus on increasing collaboration between the Red Cross and other non-profit organizations that support disaster relief and recovery efforts in the community. During disaster, the Red Cross works closely with organizations like the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptists, Tzu Chi and other groups who offer food, clothing and other services, including financial assistance, to those affected by disaster. Also during disaster, the Red Cross works with organizations like the SPCA to provide care for evacuated animals and medical facilities to provide critical health services

Earlier this month, the Red Cross worked with Lutheran Social Services, Northern California Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), Home Depot and Pacific Gas and Electric Company to provide food, blankets and flashlights to Tenderloin residents who were without power for a full day due to an underground explosion. During every home fire or local disaster, the Red Cross connects clients with organizations to help them with recovery. In major disasters, the number of organizations involved in the relief and recovery efforts increases, requiring volunteers to work within Emergency Operation Centers, with tribal nations and with a wide variety of government, non-profit and corporate organizations.

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