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Volunteer Groups Discuss Disaster Relief Tonight
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - An organizational meeting is tonight for a new effort to streamline relief work from area businesses and non-profit organizations during disasters. 

Disaster Program Specialist Ari Denson of the American Red Cross told West Kentucky Star that the meeting at 6 pm at MSU's Paducah campus is for a local Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD. 

Denson said it's to help coordinate efforts of non-profits, for profits, and churches and direct what they do during a disaster.

"After a disaster happens here in McCracken County, you might have a lot of different non-profits doing a lot of different activities. Through a VOAD they can communicate what they're doing exactly, and you can avoid duplication of services or you can find out where people are in need, and you can help communicate that to different members," Denson said. 

In the event of a disaster, the VOAD can coordinate where volunteers or supplies are needed so those who can help know what to do next, or where to pitch in and help. Although they would operate independently, the VOAD would coordinate with emergency management and other county officials so help is provided where it's needed without getting in the way.

Denson said churches or groups that provide shelter, cook meals, do construction or repairs, or have a food pantry can be part of the VOAD so that together, any disaster victims have a wider range of resources available.

He said, "We want to take in all different sorts of non-profits, so we're reaching out to organizations like Paducah Cooperative Ministry that don't necessarily do something that you imagine as disaster response, but all of the clients that they serve currently become survivors after a disaster."

Any organization that wants to be involved should sent a representative to the meeting on Thursday to get more details. The MSU Paducah campus is at 4430 Sunset Avenue. Pizza and drinks will be available at the meeting.

Denson said the meeting will review what a VOAD is and does. Those participating will learn specifics on what the McCracken County VOAD can do, and a quick questionnaire will help determine what services are available within the group. Leaders hope to establish an Executive Committee and start planning what will be done when responding to disasters. 

More information is also available at the VOAD Facebook page (see link below) or by calling Ari Denson at 270-570-5197.

Published 12:44 AM, Thursday Jan. 17, 2019
Updated 05:25 PM, Tuesday Jan. 15, 2019

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