Emergency Disaster Services Volunteers Are There When Needed

As a part of National Volunteer Week, we are recognizing the impact that volunteers make with The Salvation Army. This blog features an article originally printed in Central Connection – a newsletter for The Salvation Army’s Central Territory (read the entire newsletter here), and highlights recent stories about volunteers and staff in the wake of 2017’s record-setting disastrous weather.

When life-long Salvationists and Central Territorial Headquarters employee Blythe Marinelli developed an interest in becoming an emergency disaster services (EDS) volunteer with her husband, Jack, it quickly turned into a passion. In the past year and a half they discovered a ministry through which they receive much personal satisfaction while serving others in God’s name.

After completing the training required to be certified and registered as EDS volunteers, the Marinellis’ first experience was helping the Metropolitan Division when the Fox River flooded. Their second EDS experience took them far from home when they joined the first hurricane-relief team deployed by the territory to Puerto Rico last fall.

“Suddenly the EDS training we had received earlier – in everything from cartography and incident command duties, to logistics and personal safety – now made sense,” said Blythe. The couple spent most of their two-week commitment distributing boxes of food, water and bug spray from a convoy of vehicles assisted by young AmeriCorps volunteers and homeland security personnel. Their goal was to reach as many rural and remote communities as possible, some of which had received no aid in the week following the storm.

“Every day was a story in and of itself, but two days were especially significant,” Blythe continued.

Read the rest of the Marinellis' story...
In spite of having maps and GPS coordinates, the convoy got hopelessly lost one morning. Not even local people could help them find the right roads, some of which were still blocked by storm debris. With the day slipping away and frustration rising, they stumbled across a Christian school.

“When the convoy’s team leader entered the school to see the administrators, she said their faces registered pure shock. They’d just been praying for food and water for their students’ families with no idea where the supplies might come from,” said Blythe. “They said it was like we’d been dropped from heaven!”

On another day, the convoy came across an apartment building with 30 families who had received no assistance.

“We were able to leave exactly enough and even pray with them,” said Blythe. Finding there were still some supplies left over – too little for many, but too much to take back – they kept driving and found another group of folks in need. Blythe marveled, “When we got to the last person, we realized we were distributing our very last box!”

We are grateful to the Marinellis for their dedication to serving others, and their selflessness in the wake of disaster.

To learn more about EDS volunteers and staff during and after last year’s disasters, click the images below:

If you’d like to volunteer with The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services, please visit their website to register and sign up for classes. For other types of volunteer opportunities, please email us. Thank you again to our volunteers who generously give their time to The Salvation Army. You make the difference.


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