No humanitarian organization is an island, and certainly not during a disaster. That’s where partnerships come into play.
The Rev. Dr. Randy Vaughn, director of the National Baptist Convention’s Office of Disaster Management, speaks at the orientation in Washington on Nov. 12, 2009. Juliet Choi, Red Cross senior director of Disaster Partner Services, joins him for additional remarks.
Joe Becker, Red Cross senior vice president of Disaster Services, discusses next steps for the National Baptist Convention.
The American Red Cross has expanded its ability to respond to disasters by forming diverse and inclusive partnerships with faith-based and civic organizations across the country, such as the one with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
As part of their recently-signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the Red Cross and the National Baptist Convention are working together to provide disaster preparedness and response services to diverse communities. The National Baptist Convention is the nation’s oldest and largest religious convention among African Americans, with more than 41,000 churches and approximately 7.5 million members in communities around the country.
Leaders from the National Baptist Convention traveled from across the United States to Washington, D.C., this week to attend a disaster leadership orientation at Red Cross national headquarters.
Among other goals, the orientation served to strengthen relationships between the two organizations. As Gene Collins, a Red Cross national volunteer partner, told the group, “When we’re on the same page, we can make beautiful music together.”
Under the partnership agreement, National Baptist Convention churches may be used as shelters, and members can be trained in different disaster response roles. Churches can also help local Red Cross chapters prepare their communities and work together on community disaster planning.
The partnership has already been put to use in Georgia, which experienced heavy flooding in September.
The orientation provided a look at how the Red Cross operates during a disaster, including its cooperation with partners. Representatives from the National Baptist Convention also gave an overview of its Office of Disaster Management, which was created after the destructive hurricane season of 2005.
After breaking into groups to discuss potential disaster scenarios and the challenges one may face in those situations, Joe Becker, Red Cross senior vice president of Disaster Services, spoke to the group about next steps.
Becker emphasized the importance of starting small, such as having church members join the Red Cross when they distribute supplies to neighborhoods affected by a disaster. The important thing, Becker noted, is for both organizations to learn something each time they work together. Not everything goes perfectly during a disaster, but “anything we do to better serve the community is a win,” Becker said.
The leaders from the National Baptist Convention concluded their week in Washington by joining the Red Cross in a meeting with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.