I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).
Today’s prompt is: START
My wonderful friend Sandy has been the organizer behind trips last Sunday and yesterday intended to provide volunteer assistance following Hurricane Michael.
Last week, we volunteered in Blountstown. We were tipped off to the volunteer effort by a runner friend (who is also the fire chief there). Sandy and I both have great memories of running in Blountstown, and we knew that town fell among many that were not (for whatever reason) getting as much public attention as others (despite equally catastrophic devastation).
One of the things we did when we arrived was sign in. It was a pretty informal sign-in process — just adding our handwritten names/emails to a notepad, with the organizer saying the group wanted to be sure to thank us eventually. Being a rule follower, I signed it (it doesn’t matter to me if someone sends me a thank you note later…).
Yesterday, we volunteered in Seminole County, Georgia. When we arrived, we signed in with our arrival time and completed a relatively boilerplate volunteer information sheet. Still, for a several-hour stint, it seemed like a somewhat formal arrangement.
As we were leaving three hours later, the coordinator asked us if we had signed out. We had almost walked right past the sheet. Why did it matter how long we were there?
It turns out that the length of time we were there does matter. The coordinator explained that every documented, qualified hour of volunteer time offsets a county liability to FEMA.
HMMMMMM – that got my mental wheels turning.
(Note: what follows is not an official explanation, just what I have learned from digging around a bit.)
***end of five minutes***
What I gather is that volunteer hours have a role in helping the county get more money when it applies for a FEMA Public Assistance Grant. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the site we were at was coordinated by Adventist Disaster Response. Since this was not their first time at the disaster rodeo, I guess they know all about squeezing the most financially beneficial outcome from anything donated, whether it is time or money.
I honestly didn’t know local areas had fiscal obligations to FEMA after a disaster, but now that I have thought about it, the idea makes more sense.
The takeaway, however, is that we shouldn’t discount requests during this disaster period (or any disaster/volunteer opportunity) to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of the paperwork.
It may be a community’s start toward preserving funds that are already scarce.