The American Red Cross will bring its emergency shelter operations training course back to Blanco County Saturday, March 8, at 9 am in the Activities Building of the Johnson City First United Methodist Church.
This is the same course which last May launched the Blanco County Disaster Response Group by training 36 local residents in how to set up, operate and shut down a short-term emergency shelter. The Response Group has doubled in size since then, and this class is to catch up later volunteers and bring in new ones.
"We were thinking then only of preparing to open our own building to our neighbors in an emergency," said Pastor Judy Baskin. "Since then, we've broadened our horizons and are preparing volunteers for Blanco shelters, and, we hope, other facilities in Johnson City, too."
The county now has four ARC-certified shelters...three in Blanco and one in Johnson City...with another in the works for Johnson City.
"Having more shelters definitely is better," explained Kristy Vandenberg, Executive Director of the Hill Country Red Cross Chapter in Kerrville. "We probably won't need all of them at once, but we may need more than one, and each has its own special assets that make it best for some needs. Having a choice means a better fit for the need at hand."
"But having these additional trained volunteers is really critical to a good, quick response."
It may sound odd when Vandenberg refers to "guests" in a shelter, but that's how the training teaches shelter workers to think of shelter residents -- as guests in their homes -- neighbors who need their hospitality, help and protection for a few days.
The Red Cross has begun putting additional shelter supplies in Blanco County, too. The pre-positioned supplies will let volunteers open an emergency shelter quicker, and reduce dependence on deliveries from warehouses in Kerrville or San Antonio.
The day-long training is free and open to anyone willing to learn how to help their community in a time of need. To register for the course, call JoAnn Routh at 868-7414...or just appear at the door.