People are wonderful.
After a disaster, there is a flood of goodwill that pours into communities to help with the local recovery effort. These volunteers and donors come not only from within the community, but from areas all over the US.
Unfortunately, it is hard for someone in California to help someone in New York in a meaningful way — they would have to travel to the devastated community. This is not only costly, but also causes an unnecessary influx of people to an unsafe disaster area.
The Remote Volunteer
We’re helping change this pattern and allow people across the country to volunteer meaningfully without rushing into a disaster zone. Using the Recovers.org platform, a California resident has the ability to help in a New York recovery effort, without ever leaving their home. We’re seeing a new class created – the remote volunteer. Since the Recovers.org software logs all of the needs, donations, and volunteers into online databases, it allows for volunteers outside of the disaster area to remotely view this information from their computer and match people in need of assistance with available local resources. Therefore, the person living in California can directly help those affected by the disaster in New York, without ever leaving their living room.
Utilizing remote volunteers provides multiple benefits to recovering communities by:
- Capturing the goodwill of people from around the world and channeling it to help with the local recovery effort.
- Reducing the flood of out-of-town volunteers into an affected community, which is unsafe and unnecessarily inundates the local volunteer organizers.
- Lessening the burden and responsibilities of local volunteer organizers and lengthening their participation in the recovery effort.
- Helping bridge the gap from immediate response (first 7 days) to long-term recovery (2 months +).
- Increasing the speed and efficiency of meeting needs within the community.
We’ve seen these remote volunteers in action. After the initial response to Hurricane Sandy, local volunteer organizers began to leave the day-to-day recovery and return to their jobs and families. They were burning out and could not commit as much time to the recovery effort, but affected households were still reporting needs. To solve this problem, we empowered remote volunteers from NPower (http://www.npower.org/) to manage these incoming needs and match them with available resources. The fantastic crew of NPower volunteers, many from locations outside of the Hurricane Sandy disaster area, were able to spend a of couple evening hours contacting those in need of help and connecting them with available volunteers and donors. These remote volunteers helped fill in where the local volunteers had left off and bridge the gap from initial response to long-term recovery.
Again, people are wonderful. In response to a disaster, I have been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming goodwill of those wanting to help. And it’s clear that the quantity of people is not a problem, but rather capturing and utilizing those people effectively. The right tools, given to the right people, can harness and deploy this goodwill in a recovery effort, and even allow remote volunteers to participate directly. That’s what we’re trying to do here at Recovers.org