Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Minisink Valley Lions Club Is Ready, Willing and Able

The Minisink Valley Lions Club (formerly the Greenville/Wawayanda Lions Club) of Orange County, NY, has a long history of community service—from cooking meals for the Orange County Mental Health Association’s annual autism fundraiser, to hand-delivering baskets of food to families in need during the holidays, to providing community members hard hit by the recession with financial assistance for household utilities, medical costs, clothing or food.

So joining the Metro NY Red Cross Ready When the Time Comes (RWTC) program, which provides disaster-relief training to volunteer teams from local community and corporate groups, seemed a natural fit to Lion’s Club members Joan Romanyschyn and Joanne Wilcox.

They were well aware that the Delaware River floods regularly, inundating Orange County communities. After record-setting floods along the Delaware in 2007, Red Cross set up shelters in Port Jervis and Washingtonville, NY, helping scores of affected residents. Joan, Joanne and the Lions Club wanted to be ready before the next flood occurred. “We wanted to become involved with the Red Cross because it provides a direct way for our members to assist others in our community,” said Joan. “If there's a need, we want to learn the skills necessary to fill it. We don't have a lot of money, but we are very hands-on.”

The Lions scheduled their RWTC training for April 2008, and a total of 13 members registered. But before they could even take their scheduled training, the team was placed on standby following the crane collapse that occurred in Manhattan on March 15, 2008. It turned out that the Lions weren’t needed, but if they had been, they would have been happy to travel down to New York City and help.

The team’s first and only response to date occurred in February 2010, when they helped staff a shelter during a fierce snowstorm in the Lower Hudson Valley. As a team, they truly felt a sense of all being in it together. The Lions also found that the beginning-level classes they had taken were helpful. As a result of their training, they felt as though they were providing the services genuinely needed by those who sought assistance at the shelter.

Now that they’ve had some experience, the Lions’ team feels very comfortable with the idea of responding again. In the meantime, they’re looking to strengthening their team through more advanced training. They want to be ready if and when the Red Cross calls!

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