Friday, October 5, 2012

[SEHA] Fwd: Volunteer Opportunity

This looks like a very interesting opportunity for emergency management volunteering! 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Thomas Jenkins <>
Date: Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Subject: Volunteer Opportunity

Student Environmental Health Association members,

Hello, my name is Tom Jenkins and I am a Student Assistant over at the University of Washington Emergency Management office. I am contacting your organization because we are looking to train 2 individuals for a campus emergency volunteer program and I believe it would be an amazing opportunity for a student involved with your organization.

     We are looking to train a total of 2 volunteers to be qualified Shelter Operators for the UW-Seattle campus. What this means is that they would be the primary management staff person to report in to a shelter location once the University has determined that we have a displaced population on campus that either cannot return to their off-campus housing (Think of the 2012 "Snowmageddon" event, or roads becoming damaged/destroyed during an earthquake) or on-campus residents being forced to leave a residence hall for a brief period of time. The shelter locations we have already chosen on campus are expected to be "activated" for no longer than 72 hours, so real-world commitments would be short-term, yet fast-paced.

     I personally thought of reaching out to students interested in Environmental Health because an opportunity like this would provide excellent training & experience as they look ahead toward formal internships and eventually a career after graduation. The specific "soft skills" this would provide include: Staff AND Project Management experience, formal training in volunteer organization (Shelter Operators would have several volunteers to assist, but would be the main Point of Contact between UW administrative departments and residents of the shelter), and an opportunity to apply theory & lessons learned in the classroom towards a real-world challenge.

     The best part of this is that a majority of the planning, logistics and administrative work for sustaining a shelter for 6-72 hours has already been done; we simply need volunteers to actually open the shelter when directed and manage it once displaced staff/faculty/students begin to arrive. UW Emergency Management coordinates all training required, makes sure the shelter(s) are stocked with necessary supplies and serves as the primary "partner" during a shelter activation to support volunteer & resident needs to the best of the University's ability (it is hard to say how much support would be needed, as each emergency would be different).

     Please share this opportunity with your members, as we would truly love to help develop a student's skills in a manner that will also give them something practical & valuable to take away from the experience. As it is a volunteer position, we cannot afford to compensate any students with wages when training or running the shelter, but I believe that the ability to apply environmental health concepts and discover their management style in unique situation would be impossible to put an accurate price upon. As you can well imagine, having a large group of people suddenly forced to reside together presents challenges; making sure people understand not only what prevents them from returning home, but how it may be fixed and making sure their temporary shelter is a safe & secure location is a challenging task!

     Have any interested student(s) contact me directly by e-mail, or through my office phone and I can provide more information as requested. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.

Tom Jenkins
Student Assistant, UW Emergency Management
Office: (206) 685-6773