Residents and visitors of the Rim Country have someone to turn to in an emergency.
A group of 20 dedicated men and women are full-time volunteers with the Red Cross Rim Country Service Delivery Unit.
These people are here to help the victims of house fires and large-scale disasters. They are on call around the clock, said Megan Morris, director of communications for the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter, which oversees the local unit.
"They are dedicated to the mission of the American Red Cross to provide relief to victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies," Morris said.
This relief includes resources to meet immediate emergency needs, such as food, clothing, shelter and emotional support and assistance for replacement of health-related items lost in the disaster.
The volunteers are helped in their efforts through invaluable community support.
"The depth of support and partnership is amazing," said Roxey Bowers, disaster coordinator for the Rim Country unit.
"Restaurants donate meals, community organizations donate bottled water and markets donate food to support our local shelter operations.
"We have at least 10 motels that have signed commitments with the Red Cross to open rooms for those in a disaster situation.
"We also have many churches, community centers and all of the public schools in our district committed to help, if called upon for shelter operations," he said.
The Rim Country's Red Cross became active just after the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in September 2002. Since then, the group has assisted during the Kinishba Fire in July 2003, the Willow Fire in June 2004 and more. The first group of volunteers completed formal training in December 2003.
In the past 12 months, the Red Cross has provided more than $3,000 in direct financial assistance to at least eight families that have been the victims of house fires.
A temporary shelter was opened in May of this year during the Promontory Fire evacuations. In March 2006, after a 31-inch snowfall left travelers stranded, Rim Country Red Cross volunteers opened a shelter that served 165 people over a two-day period.
Among the Rim Country unit's members are a nurse and two mental health volunteers. Their immediate service areas include Payson, Roosevelt, Punkin Center, Young, Rye, Strawberry, Pine, Christopher Creek and all the surrounding communities.
The team maintains a disaster services shelter trailer that is equipped to serve 100 people and a storage unit with water, comfort kits and extra cots and blankets.
The Rim Country Red Cross volunteers also work in concert with the area's first responders -- police and fire departments, along with Gila County's emergency management team, which plays a critical role in notifying the Red Cross of community emergency needs during a disaster.
"It's that ‘driving force' that enables us to be greater than the sum of our parts when a disaster calls us together to serve the members of our communities," Bowers said.
"No one person is the ‘driving force' behind our local Red Cross. It is a very dedicated group of volunteers, combined with community awareness that provide the ‘driving force' for Red Cross in the Rim Country. We are our community. We know what it takes. We know what we need. We are all proud to serve."
Volunteers are always welcome. For information about the Red Cross unit in the Rim Country, call Bowers at (928) 719-5008. To learn about volunteering, contact Carol Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 472-7294.
About the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter
The Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross is where people in Arizona come together to help each other every day. The volunteer-led organization serves more than 4.4 million people in communities across Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties. Red Cross volunteers provide disaster relief to their neighbors affected by disasters, emergency assistance to members of the Armed Forces, preparedness and safety education to families and businesses, and international communications assistance for refugees. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on the generosity of our Arizona neighbors in the forms of time, money, and blood to do its work. To make a financial donation, enroll for a lifesaving skills course, register to volunteer, request disaster assistance or Armed Forces emergency assistance, contact your local American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter by visiting www.arizonaredcross.org or calling (602) 336-6660. To give blood, visit www.givelife.org or call 1-800-GIVE LIFE.