Volunteer Coordination

KYEM Volunteer CoordinationKentucky is one of only a few states, nationwide, which employs a full-time Volunteer Coordinator.  It is the responsibility of the Program Coordinator to ensure that unmet disaster needs are identified and met. 

Unlike other disaster programs managed by KYEM, the Volunteer Coordination Program can be activated for events which do not receive a presidential declaration. 

Major activities of this program include:

  • Disaster Assistance
  • Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOADs)
  • Long Term Recovery Committees
  • Donation Management

Disaster Assistance Often times, citizens have recovery needs that are not covered by local, state, or federal programs.  The KYEM Volunteer Coordinator can assist by locating volunteers and organizations that can provide assistance such as debris clearance, sandbagging, home muck outs, minor home repairs, etc.  It is imperative that citizens report unmet needs.  Citizens should call the county emergency director’s office or help line (if their community has a designated help line).  County directors or local VOADS are responsible for contacting the KYEM Volunteer Coordinator with requests for volunteer assistance.

Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters -The purpose of this organization is to bring together voluntary organizations to foster more effective service to the people of Kentucky affected by disaster through:

  • Communication
  • Coordination
  • Cooperation
  • Advocacy
  • Collaboration
  • Outreach

The Kentucky VOAD includes members from the American Red Cross, Christian Appalachian Project, Dare-to-Care Food Bank, Convoy of Hope, KY REACT Council, The Salvation Army, Seven Counties Services, United Way of Kentucky, Tri-State County Animal Response Team, and numerous religious organizations.

KY VOAD members share information to facilitate access to available resources and services.  This cooperation has resulted in coordinated response and recovery efforts by member organizations.  Members are involved from first response through final recovery.  KY VOAD promotes coordination among member organizations and National VOAD partners to facilitate access to available resources and services.  KY VOAD works closely with KYEM and FEMA to prevent duplication of effort and promote effective distribution of resources in times of emergency.

Individuals, families, and communities affected by disaster may receive assistance from a variety of member organizations.  If forced to leave their homes, disaster survivors may receive temporary shelter, food, and housing for their pets.  If their homes, furnishings, or other property are damaged or destroyed, KY VOAD members, in partnership with local and national partners, may help with clean up, repair, or replacement.

The KYEM Volunteer Coordinator can facilitate the development of local VOAD groups.

Long Term Recovery Committees are formed at the local level to empower disaster-affected citizens to recovery from disaster events.  This community involvement uses a holistic approach to long-term recovery by maximizing public and private resources to facilitate an efficient and effective system which addresses unmet needs of disaster survivors without duplicating services. 

The KYEM Volunteer Coordinator can facilitate the development of local Long Term Recovery Committees.

Donations Management is vital during disaster events.  Without proper management and organization, communities may receive unusable items or unneeded resources.  With proper prior organization and communication these problems may be minimized or avoided. 

Those wishing to donate time or resources should carefully consider the following:

  1. Cash Donations are Best:  Cash contributions allow professional relief organizations to purchase what is most urgently needed.  Cash donations require no transportation costs and involve no workers for sorting or distribution.  Cash donations allow relief supplies to be bought near the disaster site, thus stimulating the local economy and ensuring a quicker supply delivery.
  2. Donate Through an Organization:  It is essential to locate a reliable relief organization willing to receive the shipment of donated goods.  When unsolicited truckloads arrive at a disaster site, there is often no place to unload.  Often items become part of the debris that must be removed during the cleanup phase of the disaster response.
  3. Affiliate Before Showing Up:  Instead of arriving unexpectedly in a disaster area, volunteers should register with a recognized volunteer agency.
  4. Prepare for Self-Sufficiency:  In most disasters, there are inadequate facilities for feeding, housing, personal hygiene, and medical needs for volunteers.  It is best to affiliate with a recognized agency that will provide for these needs.
  5. Be Patient and Flexible:  Volunteers should be prepared to step into a variety of roles, depending on current or sudden needs.  Volunteers expecting to enter a response or relief operation in a certain capacity will often be disappointed.  Sometimes a volunteer’s unique talents are not immediately needed.
  6. Know the Liability Situation:  Volunteers should be certain that the volunteer agency with which they are affiliated has  adequate liability insurance coverage.  Volunteers not registered with a volunteer agency should assume that all liability is their own responsibility.
  7. Volunteers a Coordinated Process:  The use of volunteers is an organized process by which people with abilities, skills, and training are assigned to special tasks.  Volunteers are most useful when they are able to do the right thing at the right time.
  8. Commit to the Response Effort:  Disaster work is often dirty, monotonous, mundane, and not glamorous.  There is little individual recognition.  Volunteers should be committed to work under such conditions and fit within plans that are coordinated by the volunteer agencies.
  9. Confirm the Need:  Contact the KYEM Volunteer Coordination Program to determine what needs exist.
  10. Plan Transportation in Advance:  Never assume that unsolicited relief supplies will be transported at no charge.  Local trucking firms may be willing to help in times of disaster, if funds are available to cover part of the expense.  Some volunteer agencies may have trucks going to the disaster area which can take donations, or they can identify another group in the area.
  11. Ensure That Donated Items are Packed Well and Clearly Labeled:  Specific content lists should be taped to the side of each box sent.  This allows officials to determine quickly determine the contents without having to open the box.  Clothing, if requested, should be sorted in separate boxes by gender, size, and season.
  12. Send Small Items and Unsorted Clothing to Meet Local Needs:  Miscellaneous, unrequested items and unsorted bags of clothing require a great deal of processing.  Do not send such items to a disaster site.  This type of donation may be more appropriate for a local charity, homeless shelter, or food bank.

Volunteer Coordinator

Bill Eckler

Please note:
Storm-damaged communities do not need goods at this time.  Cash donations are strongly encouraged to a charitable organization of your choice.


FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA Donations or Volunteering (Helping Others)
National Donations Management Network
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)
Volunteer Coordination