The holiday season is a time for giving. We spend hours (sometimes weeks, months…) searching for and picking out the perfect gifts for friends and family. Many of us donate to non-profits and charitable organizations. We even give to ourselves – often taking important time off to unwind and connect with our loved ones.
The holidays also offer an opportunity to give our time and skills to volunteer organizations and think of new ways to connect with our communities. This holiday season, consider donating your time to improve the health of your community by volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).
The MRC is a national network of more than 175,000 volunteers located throughout the United States and its territories. MRC units organize, train, and utilize local volunteers to prepare for and respond to emergencies. MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds.
Although volunteering is important all year, winter typically brings a predictable but dangerous series of threats to community health across the country: colder temperatures, winter storms, and power outages.
In January and February 2019, MRC volunteers from across the country – from the Pacific Northwest to New England to the Gulf Coast – devoted more than 700 hours in response to these winter emergencies.
To help their communities weather the storms, MRC volunteers staffed warming centers and overnight shelters; provided call center support at emergency operations centers; assisted with charging stations during extended power outages for residents to charge electricity-dependent equipment and devices; and performed door-to-door wellness checks on residents who may be home bound and without power.
In addition to weather-related events, many MRC units are busy during the winter months keeping their communities healthy by combating the flu virus. MRC volunteers administer vaccines and provide logistical support at hundreds of flu clinics in their local communities, including those held at community events, health departments, and schools. These events provide MRC units with opportunities to test their capabilities to respond to a pandemic or other incident requiring mass dispensing.
All of these activities build communities that are healthier, better prepared, and more resilient. If you are interested in serving your community - whether this holiday season, this winter, or any other time throughout the year - I invite you to find an MRC unit near you, talk to your local coordinator, and ask what their needs are and how you may be able to serve.