Under priesthood direction, Church volunteers assist with disaster response efforts. They focus on cleanup, not reconstruction.
These volunteers typically wear Mormon Helping Hands vests or T-shirts to represent the Church.
All volunteers involved in Church response efforts, including those of other faiths, are to uphold Church standards. Priesthood leaders should recognize the risk of using spontaneous volunteers who appear on-site. They may choose to provide close supervision for them or refer these well-meaning individuals to other volunteer agencies.
Volunteers who are minors must have a signed Parental or Guardian Permission and Medical Release form.
When an affected stake requests volunteers from other stakes to assist with disaster cleanup, the requests should be for a specific number of volunteers to do a specific project defined in advance, which is ready for them when they arrive.
Depending on the magnitude of the disaster, you may want to appoint people to the following assignments:
- Director—to orient the volunteers, direct the work, make decisions as needed, promote the safety of the volunteers, and ensure that hours are recorded and reported.
- First Aid/Health Coordinator—to provide first aid, nutrition, and hydration to volunteers who need it.
- Team Leaders—to lead groups of 2-20. Team leaders should be provided by the responding units. Each team leader ensures that everyone on the team has enough to do, has the right equipment, and is working. As work assignments are completed, the team leader schedules new assignments. He or she decides how to best utilize the team's resources. Team leaders are responsible for reporting the status of each work order, completing Work Crew Logs, requesting additional volunteers as needed, and determining the safety of each home before providing service.
- Field Supervisors—to go to affected neighborhoods, provide reports back to the operations center, assign or reassign volunteers, and otherwise help ensure that all teams have assignments and keep the work moving along.
- Supplies Coordinator—to assemble and manage equipment and supplies, including first aid supplies. (See “Typical Flood Damage Cleanup Items,” below.)
- Journalist/Historian—to take photographs of volunteers in all stages and at all locations. They typically are not associated with a single team but cover the entire affected area.
- Upon arrival at the designated location, a director or volunteer leader should be present to ensure that all volunteers are properly oriented to their work, including the use of Assessment and Work Order forms, and to any safety concerns.
- Often volunteers arrive at different times; therefore, training needs to be ongoing and should be organized so that volunteers do not have to wait to be oriented. Multiple trainers can facilitate quick, simultaneous orientation for large numbers of volunteers.
- Remind volunteers that they should not proselyte while performing service. When finishing their service, the team leader may ask if a prayer could be offered.
- Work teams should be organized and accounted for by ward or stake.
- Volunteers should be “checked in” and “checked out” at the service project location.
- The number of volunteers and hours served should be recorded and reported up priesthood lines (see Record of Donated Labor Hours).
Notifications to Supporting Stakes
Supporting stakes should be notified of the following information:
- Name and phone number of individual(s) coordinating volunteer efforts
- Location of the operations center
Work crew organization
- Number of volunteers requested
- Date and time volunteers are needed
- Expected duration of service assignment
- Description of the situation and the work to be accomplished
- Sleeping arrangements
- Availability of shower and restroom facilities
- A copy of Disaster Cleanup Guidelines—Church Volunteers
- Volunteers should plan to be self-sufficient, not depending on any local resources. For example, they should bring their own food and water, tools and equipment (see list below), and camping supplies for overnight stays.
- Vehicle logistics: types of vehicles recommended for transporting volunteers and equipment to and from work sites and availability of fuel.
- Staging and work site locations
- Emergency operations center or stake center location
Any other information that would assist volunteer stakes in preparation for response efforts
Communication from Supporting Stakes to Their Volunteers
Supporting stakes should give volunteers the following:
- A description of the situation and the work to be accomplished.
- Suggestions of what to bring: equipment, clothing, personal supplies, food and water, and so on.
- Information about sleeping arrangements, availability of showers and restrooms, and so on.
- Copies of the document titled “Disaster Cleanup Guidelines—Church Volunteers.”
- Explanation that Church volunteers are to assist in cleanup, not reconstruction.
- Contact information for the volunteer stake disaster response coordinator.
- A reminder that volunteers should not proselyte while performing service.
Notes regarding Volunteers
- Youth (ages 10–18) may be able to participate in projects and other disaster assistance activities, including cleanup projects, donation centers, and food drives.
- Local leaders should carefully scope out the work and provide guidance to parents for allowed youth ages. Careful consideration should be given to youth working in difficult “mucking out” projects.
- There are many tasks that members with special needs can participate in and feel fulfillment in serving others (for example, call centers, donation centers, food preparation, and shelter operations).