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Community Center readies volunteer response to next crisis

Posted on October 6, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun
Sonoma Valley High School, was an official evacuation center during the fires.
Sonoma Valley High School, was an official evacuation center during the fires.

Since 2013, the Sonoma Community Center has been designated as the Emergency Volunteer Center (EVC) as part of the City of Sonoma’s Emergency Plan. During last October’s wildfires, the EVC was mobilized.  The response: Center staff and volunteers registered 556 volunteers, assigning 367 to support emergency operations, primarily at the Evacuation Centers.

That experience — manually registering and assigning volunteers for eight days — provided valuable lessons about marshaling an efficient, coordinated response to a crisis.

A year later, the Center is kicking off an initiative to build a cadre of community volunteers who have been pre-registered and screened for activation during the next community emergency.

“Volunteers are a critical part of our ability to respond as a City and community during disasters,” aid City Manager Cathy Capriola.

“The City is extremely appreciative of the leadership and dedication of the Sonoma Community Center – first during the fires by registering and organizing our volunteers and now by improving their system and process for the future,” she said.

The program is sponsored by Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

“We are honored to be of value to the community during times of need,” said John Gurney, the Center’s executive director.  “Our new partnership allows efficient enrollment, communication and validation of emergency volunteers.”

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Volunteer registration will be done online at sonomacommunitycenter.org.  Look for the ‘Get Involved’ tab and select ‘Emergency Volunteers’.  After registration each volunteer will receive an email with further information about the background verification process for emergency volunteers.

Once enrolled as an Emergency Volunteer in the program database, volunteers will receive periodic communications to confirm the volunteer’s status, continued interest in being an emergency volunteer and update the inventory of skills or equipment available.

Volunteers will receive invitations to attend specialized emergency training to be provided by public safety, Red Cross and the utility companies.

Find out more at sonomacommunitycenter.org or 707).938.4626 x1, or by visiting the Center’s main office. Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 276 East Napa Street, in Sonoma.



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