Preparing Those with a Heart to Serve During a Disaster

When the tornado hit Pendleton on Memorial Day of 2019, Kim Rogers Hatfield knew just what to do to set up and run a Volunteer Reception Center. Because the people of Madison County and their neighbors in other counties have a heart for serving and coming to people’s aid in a disaster, she knew volunteers who were unaffiliated with nonprofits or emergency management would spontaneously show up and want to help. Volunteers are an incredibly valuable resource—especially in emergency situations when they are trained, assigned, and supervised.

There is an economic and logistical value in working with volunteers in times of disaster. Effectively documenting volunteers’ activities is crucial for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reimbursement and risk management. Situations like this call for a Volunteer Reception Center—a place to register volunteers, check their background, assess their skills, give them some safety training, give them credentials that show they have been vetted and trained, and then, assign them to the work that needs done.

For those of you who do not know Anderson’s own Kim Rogers-Hatfield, she is a highly regarded leader in the state for understanding disaster response and knowing how to organize volunteers around it. For years, she has chaired Madison County’s Community Organizations Active in Disaster. Currently, she serves as Director of Engagement for Heart of Indiana United Way—serving Madison, Delaware, Fayette, Henry, and Randolph Counties.

Through her training and lived experience, Kim knows that the time to learn about how to organize volunteers is not when the disaster is happening—it is well in advance of it. On September 14th, Heart of Indiana United Way hosted a Volunteer Reception Center Training at the Millcreek Civic Center in Chesterfield.

She trained a team of people about how to successfully set up and run Volunteer Reception Centers during active disasters. Once everyone understood how the process works, she ran a simulation to let folks experience how to set up and run a Volunteer Reception Center. Those in the training got to practice setting up an assembly line to help register volunteers, check their ID, assess their skills, conduct a safety training for them, and assign them to a task to help others in the simulated disaster.

When the tornado touched down in Pendleton, Kim already knew 25-30 Madison County volunteers who were ready to run Volunteer Reception Centers. She knew them because she had already trained them at a session. Now, another cohort of volunteers stands ready to serve.

Do you have a heart for this kind of volunteer service and want to learn how to help in the future? Contact Kim at kimrh@heartofindiana.org or by calling 765-608-3067.