What Does It Take To Be an Ohio Disaster Relief Volunteer?

What Does It Take To Be an Ohio Disaster Relief Volunteer?

By John Heading, Ohio Disaster Relief director

According to recent estimates, there are currently approximately 1400 disaster relief agencies in the United States. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is one of about a dozen organizations that are active on a regular basis and is one of the few organizations that are faith based.

Ohio Disaster Relief exists to bring Help, Hope and Healing to people affected by disaster. We do this with the heart of Jesus who had compassion for people in need and responded by meeting their needs. So, what does it take for be a good disaster relief volunteer? According to the “Introduction to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief,” there are eight characteristics to consider.

Having a servant’s heart - When teams hit the field we must care more about serving than completing jobs. It’s easy to rattle off the number of  jobs completed, but it’s another thing to share how we were able to serve those affected.

Willing to take directions from others - SBDR is highly organized. Volunteers wear gold caps. Team leaders wear blue hats. Incident commanders wear white hats. When teams are serving in the field, the team leaders call the shots. They have more experience and may know things the gold caps may not know.

Adapting to ever-changing circumstances - Serving in a disaster area is fluid. It is normal to hit the field planning to one thing but doing something else instead. 

Knowing how to be part of the team - Ohio Disaster Relief is a team. There’s no way to remove a tree, clean out a flooded home, or cook food for 100 people alone. We accomplish more together than we can on our own. 

Serving to help people in need - Some volunteer in disaster zones to help people in need, but others are there to feel good about themselves. SBDR volunteers must always be there to serve people. 

Willing to work where needed - Following the train derailment in East Palestine in 2023, Ohio DR contacted emergency management  and learned that residents needed help cleaning their houses so they would feel more confident going home. Volunteers from all Disaster Relief disciplines answered the call and cleaned homes. Although cleaning homes isn’t something we usually do, it met the needs of people in this disaster.

Self-controlling in speech, attitude, and actions -  When we deploy to a disaster zone we must remember that we represent Christ in all that we do. We must be mature enough that our faith produces speech, attitude and actions that represent Christ without having to think about it. 

Having physical strength to work long and strenuous days - Disaster Relief is strenuous work that requires significant exertion. The feeding team stands for long periods of time. The chainsaw and flood recovery teams are physically demanding.

Ohio Disaster Relief is looking for people with a heart to serve, train, and deploy to share the love of Christ with  hurting people. Please, prayerfully consider if the Lord is leading you to serve in this ministry.