Site Seer: Help others in need, and help yourself
March 27, 1997
Web posted at: 9:45 p.m. EST
From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman
In this story:
(CNN) -- In many parts of the world, floodwaters mark the
change in seasons, and victims need a helping hand. Although
financial aid is always appreciated, there's often no
substitute for the human touch.
In Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, thousands of victims of the
deadly Ohio River flooding are still washing away dangerous,
bacteria-laden mud. Meteorologists are predicting flooding
in the Dakotas that could be the worst in 100 years.
And that's just in the United States. Elsewhere, people also
fall victim to natural disasters like floods, earthquakes,
tornadoes and hurricanes. They clean their homes and
reconstruct roads -- as they try to rebuild their lives.
While you're trying to decide whether you should send a check
to the Red Cross, consider that it also takes elbow grease to
rebuild, and people with many skills can help.
Do you want to get more involved?
Send money or donate time
Contacting the American Red Cross is a good first step, especially
this month -- Red Cross month. Thousands of people depend on
the organization to recover from disasters.
If checkbook assistance is the most practical option for you,
the Red Cross site has a secure online donation form that
lets you contribute via check or credit card.
While the organization welcomes donations, 90 percent of its
staff are volunteers. If you want to help but don't know
how, the Red Cross will train you.
All you have to do is contact your local Red Cross office.
The national Web site will even tell you where it is via its
special search engine, if you just type in your zip code. (A
server push will send you from the search results to your the
office's Web page if one exists.)
International effort also strong
If you have unique skills and are interested in traveling to
underdeveloped, sometimes dangerous regions, the United
Nations Volunteers may
have a job for you, sometimes in a country consistently beset
The organization has more than 2,000 volunteers, some of whom
have been recognized for their work in population education.
The program pays for your travel to an assignment and
provides a modest living allowance.
Other volunteers are working to preserve traditional crafts
in Uzbekistan, rebuild Bosnia-Herzegovina, help small
businesses start up in Namibia and give job training to
disabled people, many of whom were crippled 20 years ago by
the fighting in Zimbabwe.
Sound interesting? It's easy to determine whether you have
skills the United Nations Volunteers need by checking the
site's Recruitment section. Organizations that cooperate
with the United Nations Volunteers are located on every
continent except South America.
In the United States, that cooperating organization is the
Peace Corps, a
government agency with a sharp Web site.
The group, which requires a two-year commitment, has more
volunteers than the United Nations Volunteers; it requires
applicants to have less professional experience, and it
accepts younger applicants, as young as 18 opposed to 25.
If you're not sure you're ready to make a lengthy time
commitment, the Peace Corps gives you decide. To give you a
notion of what culture clash really means, there's even a
special section of essays from Peace Corps volunteers.
Some volunteer for the fun of it
Sometimes, helping prepare for a disaster that hasn't
happened is just as useful as helping deal with an ongoing
one. The Single Volunteers Web site shows how turning
volunteering into a social activity can draw people who
wouldn't normally get involved.
Single Volunteers was founded last year by a Vermont woman
who wanted another way to meet new people. Her group assists
various community organizations. The group has grown to 250
members (they're now split up into smaller groups, sorted by
age) and has spawned at least two spin-off groups, including
one in Texas and one in Ohio.
Single Volunteers' Vermont chapter uses its extremely spare
site to publicize upcoming activities. The Ohio chapter
has a more
elaborate design and more detailed plans. You may find its
background information more detailed and useful if you're
thinking of starting a Single Volunteers group in your city.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
Do you thirst for more chances to share your time? The
following organizations don't focus on disaster relief, but
they're always looking for volunteers.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
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