When disasters happen, the Red Cross is there, not just with food, shelter and other necessities but with love and compassion. Those are Joe Korinchak's specialties, and the Richland resident loves his job as a shelter staffer because of that elusive quality the Red Cross volunteer must have just for being there.
Korinchak will fly today to North Dakota to staff a shelter for residents of Minot whom the floods of the past couple weeks have displaced. About 11,000 residents have been evacuated and forced to seek alternate shelter, at least temporarily. For some, it will be longer.
"No one who hasn't lost their home to a disaster can even imagine how hard it is for these people," said Korinchak. "They often don't know how much damage their home has sustained or when they can go back. Sometimes they just need someone to listen."
Korinchak has volunteered with the Red Cross since he retired five years ago. His first deployment was in 2006 to Oklahoma after the paralyzing ice storms that hit that region. He realized very quickly that he loved helping the people who came to the shelters.
"My specialty is mass care, which means handing out blankets and feeding and sheltering those who need it but also providing a sympathetic presence," he said.
He said patience is an important quality because in most cases all you can do is wait for the weather to change or the flood waters to recede or for rebuilding to start.
There are no special requirements to volunteer, and the Red Cross pays for transport and qualified expenses to and in disaster relief areas. Korinchak said he believes the Red Cross is worth his time because he feels so good about the type of work they do, helping and comforting people in their worst times.
How to Help:
Besides volunteers, the Red Cross depends on financial donations to help in times of disaster. Those who want to help people affected by disasters such as tornadoes, floods and wildfires, as well as countless other crises at home and around the world, can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.
There are four ways individuals can help the Red Cross relief efforts across the country:
Text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999, which will send a $10 donation to the National Disaster Relief Fund. The charge will appear on your next cell phone bill.
Mail a check to the American Red Cross, 225 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. The donation should be marked "National" if the donor wishes the funds to be earmarked for the National Disaster Relief Fund.
For more information about the Red Cross relief efforts across the nation, visit RedCross.org. For information about the efforts of the local Red Cross or to volunteer, visit swpa.RedCross.org or call 412-263-3100.