West Michigan Volunteer Featured during Colorado Flood Response

[Note: The Red Cross in Colorado originally posted this story on Sept. 21, 2013]
Photos and Story By Carl Manning
The American Red Cross call center for  the Colorado floods is operating 12 hours each day to provide information for those both needing assistance and those wanting to offer assistance. Red Cross volunteer Leonard Garyson, who is the call center manager, takes his job seriously.

Workers at the American Red Cross call
center are busy answering the phones.

“It’s important that the information goes out to the public in a timely manner and that those who call are able to have their questions answered,” said Garyson, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
The center is staffed by a blend of Red Cross volunteers and temporary employees hired for the job after being trained. Garyson said the center has been handling 20 to 30 calls each hour in its opening days. That includes calls the center returns to those asking information where some research had to be done, like finding out which agencies are accepting clothing donations. As time passes, he expects the number of calls will jump as word gets out that the center is open and that calls will start tapering off as the various needs are met. Garyson emphasized the call center will remain open as long as there is a need.
 American Red Cross volunteer and call center manager,
Leonard Garyson, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Some calls are from people wanting to know where they can get clothing and those wanting to donate clothing. The call center provides information in each instance.  Some people displaced by the flooding want to know where they can take their pets and the call center helps with that. He said the call center also been getting calls from people who weren’t  affected by the flooding. Instead they were offering living space in their homes for those who have been displaced.
“They said they want to help. They haven’t been affected and they want to reach out and help,” he said.
Garyson says there have been some unusual requests, but perhaps one of the more unusual ones was from a man offering his 20-seat passenger plane for use.
“You don’t get that kind of call every day,” Garyson said.
Call Center is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (Mountain Time) seven days a week.

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