I'm local and have time to kill. Where in Houston needs volunteers?
August 29, 2017 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I am located between Galveston and Houston. Where do I find information about volunteering?

I don't want to tax already strained resources by showing up somewhere unannounced or making a bunch of calls. Is there a place on the web with information about organizations' immediate needs for help (apart from donations)?
posted by CtrlAltD to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They just announced a new shelter opening at NRG tonight. They will need volunteers. I'm not seeing any website information. Maybe check the /houston subreddit.
posted by not that mimi at 8:07 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks. I'll go check out Reddit.

I saw this list of shelters in the Houston Chronicle. Some are accessible from my location (NRG is not). There are no phone numbers listed, though. Is it a nuisance to just show up and offer to help?
posted by CtrlAltD at 8:13 PM on August 29, 2017

I wonder if you called your own local Red Cross, if they would be able to point you in a good direction.
posted by maurreen at 8:30 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Someone directed me to this site: link Posting for others who might be interested.

(Not pepsiblue.)
posted by CtrlAltD at 8:52 PM on August 29, 2017

I've noted on a local level both the Houston OSHEM and the Harrison Co Sheriff's Dept. have been posting lots of links about shelters that are looking for volunteers in their twitter feeds, you might have to do a little scrolling: Houston OSHEM, HCSO

For more national based orgs, USA.gov has a small section about volunteering, but it's more general information (and probably how it's better to give money than show up. This might be a different situation due to scale). However, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) has a webpage devoted to volunteering - it starts you off here.
posted by barchan at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

And that last site will lead you to a list of orgs specifically in Texas who may or may not be looking for volunteers (you'll probably have to click through on each one, I'm afraid). Hmm I'll keep looking.
posted by barchan at 9:08 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oopsie, I left off the Houston OEM twitter too, they've got some asks for shelter volunteers right at the top. As I'm just really seeing requests like this pop up in various places today I imagine it will increase.

The Houston OEM has a webpage for volunteers but it's sparsely populated. . .but again, that'll probably change as they start shifting their focus in the coming days.
posted by barchan at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

This list of resources is being maintained by volunteers on the ground and their support teams at home.
posted by nicwolff at 4:14 AM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I worked in a special medical needs shelter after Sandy. If you are genuinely sure that you can access the shelter locations without endangering yourself then you should just show up. There are ebbs and flows to shelter work, but I imagine at this stage they are still just trying to figure out which was is up, and if you are willing to do whatever needs doing you could be an asset. Ill say that answering phones was NOT anyones priority, but we did have folks working the door doing triage to separate out donated goods from volunteers showing up from incoming residents/patients etc. After a period of a few days, when power was largely restored in Manhattan and many people returned to work we were very short staffed for a few nights - the worst part of the whole experience was turning the corner from immediate, emergent response and making sure people were basically safe, to realizing that they would not be going back to the homes they had come from.

tl;dr - GO.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. I tried to get to the shelters closest to my area but the roads are flooded. When the waters recede-- the bayous are draining fast-- I will stop by somewhere I can reach.
posted by CtrlAltD at 8:25 AM on August 30, 2017

if you're interested in providing unskilled labor to help people rebuild then I'd advise checking out All Hands Volunteers. They are a group that formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to support and channel civilian volunteers who just wanted to show up and help, and setting up channels to do so in a focused and flexible way. They've since setup disaster relief projects in Haiti, The Philippines, New York, etc. and have a good history of setting up community projects.

I spent a week volunteering with them in Mississippi during the aftermath of Katrina, and then when Sandy hit, put in 8 weekends traveling to New York to join their work crews. We were mostly doing house mucking/cleanups/gutting/mold remediation then moved on to framing and drywall installation as rebuilding progressed. They don't charge for participation and usually just setup a base somewhere in the area and setup an application process for interested volunteers who are willing to put in some time to help. They're a good crew and they're always looking out for hardworking idealists to help them out.
posted by bl1nk at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2017

Check out Hands.org
posted by SyraCarol at 10:50 AM on August 30, 2017

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