Local News

Organizations struggling to recruit younger volunteers during coronavirus

Posted July 31, 2020 8:37 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2020 10:33 p.m. EDT

— With any threat of a tropical storm or hurricane headed toward North Carolina, disaster relief organizations like the American Red Cross must be ready for whatever might happen.

However, such organizations are facing a new challenge of trying to recruit younger volunteers as the coronavirus poses a much higher risk for older volunteers.

The hurricane season will look unlike anything seen before, and officials with the American Red Cross say they are doing their best to adapt and be prepared to respond during a global pandemic.

“You know the challenge, of course, as we know from the reports of COVID-19 is it’s been impacting individuals that fit our donor profile, for the most part,” said Barry Porter, American Red Cross regional chief executive.

A significant number of Red Cross volunteers are from an older generation. It's a situation that was never an issue before COVID-19.

"Many of the elderly who usually volunteer at shelters will not be available this year," said state Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry. "We're looking for college-aged volunteers to help.”

The disaster relief organization is hopeful younger people will step up and lend a hand if there is severe damage from Hurricane Isaias next week.

“In disaster services, where we need people to be able to commit for a couple of days at a time, to go into an environment to work long hours, to be involved in disaster relief," Porter said, "it is helpful to be young and able to be able-bodied and assist.”

For many, it’s not only to give back but to also find a way to make a difference during a pandemic that’s consumed months of everyone’s lives.

“People are saying, 'I want to do something positive in the current environment in our country.' With the pandemic and other activities, they say, 'I want to do something positive,’" Porter said. "Well, this is a way you can do something positive, touch the life of someone else.”

Aside from younger volunteers, the Red Cross is also in need of EMTs and registered nurses. Anyone who wants to help can sign up at RedCross.org.

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