AmeriCorps Cape Cod members recruiting Barnstable County shelter volunteers

BARNSTABLE – As last weekend’s winter storm approached, the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREPC) had to weigh the need to activate the Regional Shelter System. Fortunately, the storm did not pack a powerful punch so sheltering was not necessary. Had the shelters been opened, though, the success of operations would have relied on volunteers.

The BCREPC and its shelter partners—including the American Red Cross, the Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps and two animal care organizations—are always looking for volunteers. This year, for the first time, two members of the current AmeriCorps Cape Cod team are assisting the BCREPC in recruiting community members to serve in the Regional Shelter System.

AmeriCorps Cape Cod, administered by the Barnstable County Resource Development Office, is a federal volunteer program. Each year, up to 32 service-minded young adults commit 11 months to responding to the needs of the community through hands-on service. For the past 17 years, a new team of AmeriCorps volunteers has arrived on Cape each September to assist local governments and community organizations across Cape Cod. The team focuses on critical needs across four focus areas—natural resource management, disaster preparedness and response, environmental education and volunteer engagement.

This year, AmeriCorps Cape Cod members Jacob Garringer and Jeffrey Rossi are covering two out of the four focus areas—disaster preparedness and response and volunteer engagement. Working under the supervision of BCREPC shelter coordinator Phil Burt, their goal is to recruit high school and college students and members of service clubs to serve with AmeriCorps or other agencies when the Regional Shelter System is activated.

The County’s six regional shelters are located in Falmouth High School, Sandwich High School, Barnstable Intermediate School, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich, and the Nauset Regional High School in Eastham. In addition, the REPC works closely with the towns of Bourne, Provincetown and Nantucket to support satellite shelters in each community.

Over the next six months, Garringer and Rossi will visit high schools, college organizations, and service clubs across the Cape. Jake Garringer said, “Our goal is to inform potential volunteers about the BCREPC, the Regional Shelter System and how they can become involved. When we make our presentation, we will cover the County’s disaster preparedness and response plans including the Regional Shelter System and the need for volunteers.”

“Shelter volunteers may opt to serve in one of two ways,” said Jeffrey Rossi. “They may choose to volunteer with AmeriCorps to serve in shelters for the duration of operations, helping with tasks such as set-up, registration and takedown. The second option,” said Rossi, “is to join one of the County’s designated shelter partners, and serve under that organization’s direction.”

In addition to AmeriCorps Cape Cod, the following volunteer agencies and organizations partner with the BCREPC and local public safety departments, towns, and school systems to make the Regional Shelter System possible: American Red Cross, Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps, Cape Cod Disaster Animal Response Team, Lower Cape Animal Shelter Team, Community Emergency Response Teams, and Amateur Radio Emergency Services.

Barnstable County emergency planner and shelter coordinator Phil Burt said, “The County is fortunate to have Jake and Jeffrey assisting us in building up our shelter volunteer numbers. We hope that their energy and enthusiasm will motivate community members—young people especially—to volunteer for this important function.”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, contact Jacob Garringer at (508) 375-6991 or jacob.garringer@barnstablecounty.org.

For more information on the Barnstable County Regional Shelter System visit www.bcrepc.org/sheltering or facebook.com/bcrepc. Follow the BCREPC on Twitter @bcrepc.

Media release provided by the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee

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