The Long Island Volunteer Center, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, and member agency of the LIVOAD, provides a web based platform through HandsOn Connect, that allows disaster recovery volunteers to pre-register, communicates a consistent message to those interested in volunteering, posts current opportunities to volunteer related to the disaster as requested by disaster and health and human service agencies, and has a mechanism to communicate back with the volunteers who register. All social media platforms support this “virtual” volunteer reception center.
Some important advice to unaffiliated, spontaneous volunteers:
Volunteers should NEVER deploy to the disaster area unless specifically connected to and requested by a locally receiving organization. Communities struggling to respond and recover can be overwhelmed by an influx of unexpected, unrequested and/or unneeded volunteers or donations.
Confirm the need and the destination BEFORE collecting anything. Potential donors should be wary of anyone who claims that “everything is needed.” Groups can be disappointed when the goods they’ve collected aren’t appreciated. Communities affected by disaster often do not have the time or resources to dispose of unneeded donations. Get precise information and confirm the need and destination before collecting any donated good.
Volunteer Wisely. In communities struggling to respond to and recover from disasters, an influx of unexpected, unrequested, and unneeded volunteers can seriously complicate response and recovery efforts. BEFORE TRAVELING TO THE AREA TO HELP, learn whether volunteers are needed, if local volunteers are preferred (to minimize needs for additional food, water, and shelter in an already challenged area), and if they are seeking specific skills.