United Way to lead volunteer efforts for Florence recovery

By: Staff report

LUMBERTON — Robeson County officials have named United Way of Robeson County as the lead coordinator for volunteer efforts related to Hurricane Florence.United Way is positioned to align individuals and groups seeking volunteer assignments with needs in every area of the county.

An easy registration form for both volunteers and volunteer sites is available on United Ways website at www.unitedwayrobeson.org.

“Having United Way take the lead on volunteer coordination for the county is a huge help. It means that our call volume at the Emergency Operation Center is dedicated to operational needs, such as shelter management, transportation and rescue,” said Emily Jones, public information officer for Robeson County.”Their support allows us to dedicate our staff to services critical to protecting the public during the storm, managing county resources and responding to emergent needs.”

Volunteers began registering on United Way’s website on Wednesday, before Florence approached land, and have continued steadily as the storm’s effects have hit our region. Screened volunteers are currently serving in shelters and have included professional social workers, bilingual volunteers, educators and others. Volunteers are also serving at the Emergency Operations Center as translators for Spanish-speaking residents seeking shelter and other assistance.

Latricia Freeman, executive director of the local United Way chapter, and staff arrived at the EOC on Friday morning and will remain there around the clock until the storm subsides in order to work with county personnel to secure volunteers for the most critical needs during the storm.

“United Way of Robeson County’s mission is to address the most pressing needs in our county as they relate to health, education, and financial stability,” Freeman said. “Initially, as I participated in the county’s preparation meetings at the EOC, I struggled with identifying the most pressing need and how we could support preparation efforts. I really wanted to ensure that what we would do would not duplicate services but, instead, fill a role that was vital for the safety of our county residents.

”After one of the meetings, JoAnne Branch suggested that maybe we should coordinate volunteers. I approached county leaders to ask for their thoughts on this idea and they expressed that such support would allow them to focus on rescue, infrastructure and other crisis related issues. We have been here at the EOC all day and will continue to operate in this capacity as long as we are needed. We are ready to adapt to evolving needs as they arise in the days and months ahead. We will need all of you to assist us so, please register at www.unitedwayrobeson.org to join the fight.

Volunteers provided critical support in the county’s recovery following Hurricane Matthew.

Volunteers are asked to register at www.unitedwayrobeson.org for many reasons. Here is why the agency needs volunteers:

— To ensure safety and security for volunteers, community members, county personnel and other relief organizations.

— To align volunteers with needs that match their abilities, skills, location and interest.

— To use the services of volunteers in the most efficient way possible, so that your volunteer efforts afford our communities the most benefit during this time of great need.

If you do not have access to the online form, call us at 910-739-4249 for help completing the form.


Staff report