Volunteers Continue Disaster Response During COVID-19

By Skylar Karle, Public Affairs Intern

At the American Red Cross, volunteers are at the heart of what we do. Our volunteers always answer the call to serve the community, whether that be by responding to a home fire or installing smoke alarms in homes. In Central California, volunteers like Armando Soliz of the Kern County and Eastern Sierra Chapter answer these calls to serve their community without hesitation or anyone asking them to do so.

Armando is the DAT Volunteer Coordinator for Kern County. This position is part of the Disaster Action Team (DAT) and Armando often responds to disasters, such as home fires, in the community. He says that this position is an honor and one of the most fulfilling parts of his experience with the Red Cross.

While responding to home fires at any given time during the day through the night may seem impossible to some, Armando says volunteering is just in his DNA.

“My mom was a volunteer for various organizations and my brother was a volunteer firefighter for Chowchilla,” said Soliz. “Like them, I am able to do something with my time making the world a better place one person at a time.”

The Red Cross is not the only place Armando gives his time. He also volunteers with other organizations such as Honor Flight as well as various organizations in the community, like Meals on Wheels. He says that through these, there is a lot of networking involved and the organizations can come together and help each other in times of needs. He mentioned that these community organizations have worked with him on DAT calls in the past.

Even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, emergencies don’t stop and neither does the American Red Cross. Our volunteers are still at work in every community providing care and comfort after disasters of all sizes, including home fires.

We are working closely with public health officials to ensure the safety of local communities and our workforce, while also providing the help and hope people need. On average the Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters across the country every year and the majority of these are home fires. In the Central California Region, we have responded to more than 450 home fires since July 1, 2019.

Due to this coronavirus outbreak, the Red Cross is providing relief services after home fires virtually and by remote work. For a family who has lost everything after a fire, we can still provide financial assistance as well as other resources like health and mental health support over the phone.

Armando has also been able to volunteer with the Red Cross through disaster deployments. He said one of his best memories with the Red Cross was being deployed to Missouri to help with flooding in the area.

“That was a fantastic experience dealing with the community and the local church in Missouri. That went so well and so smooth. That is a lasting good memory with the Red Cross,” said Soliz.

Armando went on to say that these experiences are not the only ones you can have while working with the Red Cross.

“There are so many different varieties of volunteering. Whether it is boots on the ground, case work, or answering telephone calls in the office, I would encourage any one to volunteer,” said Soliz.

For more information on how to volunteer with the Red Cross, visit our website to learn more.

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