Nurses and other medical professionals from across the country are lining up to give of themselves toward the rescue and recovery happening in Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
That could mean a donation of skills and experience, of blood, or money. The American Red Cross has been coordinating the recruitment of medical and mental health professional volunteers for disaster relief operations. Red Cross deployments require a nine-day commitment, along with special Red Cross trainings. They’re looking for licensed nurses, EMTs, paramedics, physician’s assistants, MDs and DOs.
If not with the Red Cross, nurses who want to help have other avenues to volunteer their skills and experience:
• Fastaff travel nursing offers expedited applications for nurses who want to volunteer in Texas. Noting that the effects of Harvey will last for months, Fastaff’s website says: “We are currently filling immediate openings in Texas and are expecting more to follow. We are seeking nurses in multiple specialties who are able to leave at a moment’s notice and be the first to serve in these urgent and crucial situations.”
• The Texas Volunteer Registry facilitates the assignment of those who want to help during a disaster. Often, volunteers who spontaneously present to disaster sites are unable to be properly deployed, and their presence goes wasted.
• A related group to the Texas Volunteer Registry, the Medical Reserve Corps is a national network of local volunteer professionals who respond to disasters. Always recruiting volunteers, they describe themselves as “… a way to offer their skills that might not have been used before because they were not adequately prepared to be part of the response effort.”
• While not seeking volunteers, the Texas Board of Nursing has implemented a disaster licensing procedure that might be helpful for certain nurses who want to help. The board is waiving fees and is quickly granting temporary licenses.
Nurses unable to donate their time and skills in the wake of Harvey can still help with blood and monetary donations. Do research before donating. Check out websites like Charity Navigator to read summaries and compare grades of organizations that are said to be helping in Harvey’s wake.
The Federal Trade Commission also offers a “Charity Checklist” that should help in your research. The FTC’s website notes:
“Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters,” the FTC website says. “Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.”
Armed with that knowledge, here are a variety of links to explore:
• The Red Cross online or text HARVEY to 90999 will take credit cards and PayPal for donations of at least $10.
• The Texas Nurses Association, via the “Nurses Helping Nurses Affected by Hurricane Harvey” fund, will take e-checks or credit-card donations of at least $10.
• A fund started by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at The Greater Houston Community Foundation is accepting donations via its website, by snail mail or wire transfer.
• Carter BloodCare offers 20 locations in Texas, and can be reached at 877-385-8724.
• Catholic Charities offers a variety of ways to give — online and otherwise — toward supporting survivors of different (or no) religious backgrounds.
• The Salvation Army says it has been mobilizing on “the front lines” of areas damaged by Harvey. They are reportedly staffing at least 36 shelters in the Houston area, and offices also provide individual food boxes, bottled water, cleanup kits and comfort kits.
• Send Relief/Southern Baptist Disaster Relief was preparing to help Harvey survivors even before the storm struck the Gulf.
• The Texas Diaper Bank distributes diapers to babies, adults and the disabled, and reports that it has taken in at least $2 million in Harvey-related collections so far.
• Houston’s Coalition for the Homeless supports persons who already had no permanent place to live, and have had their lives upended by Harvey.
• The SPCA of Texas looks after troubled pets and other animals. In the early moments of the Harvey storm, the SPCA famously transferred 123 cats from Corpus Christi to Dallas. Going forward, they’re requesting monetary donations instead of supplies. Gift cards to places like Petco would help. For those willing to volunteer in person, the Louisiana SPCA is taking applications.
Freelance writer David Brown contributed to the writing and research of this article. Photo by FEMA News Photo.
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