Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Taloga resident Karen Daily’s husband passed away in early 2012 and for three months, she said she felt paralyzed by sadness.
Then, she became a Red Cross volunteer and two weeks after that, the Woodward Tornado hit.
“I have always been an advocate for volunteerism and I just thought I would put my own words into action,” Daily said. “I just got thrown right into it when the tornado hit and it was such a great learning experience.”
The Woodward American Red Cross office is hoping that Daily’s volunteerism is catching.
The Woodward County Disaster Action Team (DAT) needs more volunteers, according to Ken Garcia, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Woodward.
“A full 96 percent of the workforce of the American Red Cross is made up of volunteers, Garcia said. “So we clearly rely on volunteers for what we do.”
A DAT volunteer performs many varied volunteers services such as providing direct relief to those affected by disasters including house fires and disastrous weather events, Garcia said.
They can also perform other functions such as coordination with the media during disaster events, planning disaster response, giving training classes and more, Garcia said.
Since Daily became a volunteer, she has not stopped moving.
“This has been such a blessing and it is so rewarding,” Daily said. "I got thrown in right from the beginning and they were so good to me in helping me learn about disaster relief getting and hands on (experience) and it was a good experience for me.”
Volunteers get training in areas such as visual assessment of a disaster and case work, first aid, CPR as well as training in just what the American Red Cross can do to help people who have been affected by a disaster.
Since the Woodward tornado, Daily has been in many other states as far as New York and New Jersey to other disasters right here in Oklahoma, she said.
“We do need more volunteers,” Daily said.
And Garcia added his cheer for more volunteers.
“Just in the last week, in our region, we have had eight house fires, Garcia said. “House fires are the most common disaster that we do respond to. Because of that, the volunteers are crucial and have to be able to give up their person time and go out there and help these families.”
Those who are interested in volunteering for the Disaster Action Teams, log onto www.okc.redcross.org and fill out an application.
According to Garcia, someone will contact you regarding training classes from the application process.
Also, November 5, at 5:30 in the Woodward office, there will be a DAT meeting where volunteers are updated and given current information or where disaster response plans are discussed.
"I think this really became personal for me when I was on the food truck working after the Woodward tornado and I looked up and saw my cousin, whose house had been hit by the tornado," Daily said. "At that point, I realized how personal it can get."