SAN FRANCISCO - The World Institute on Disability and the American Red Cross announced Wednesday (Oct. 10) the creation of an innovative national training, awareness and action program to help Red Cross staff and volunteers better serve people with disabilities during disasters.
The program will be funded through a $300,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.
"The American Red Cross is committed to providing the best service possible by constantly learning and building on its over 100 years of providing disaster relief," said Harold Brooks, chief executive officer of the organization's Bay Area Chapter.
"The American Red Cross trains staff and volunteers to respond to almost 75,000 disasters annually. This grant from Verizon is much appreciated and will help people with disabilities through this collaboration with the World Institute on Disability," Brooks said.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross saw a need to improve outreach and response to vulnerable populations, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, children and low-income communities.
The World Institute on Disability (WID) and the American Red Cross will set up a pilot program in one of 10 targeted locations across the country that could be affected by a high-risk disaster such as an earthquake or forest fire. The pilot location has not yet been selected, but among the locations selected for the training are Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and New York.
Goals of the program include:
- Improved emergency preparedness and disaster response by Red Cross staff and volunteers for people with disabilities.
- Increased collaboration between the American Red Cross and local community-based disability organizations and resources.
- Increased understanding of the special needs of those with disabilities in disaster situations.
Once the pilot program is complete, the American Red Cross will expand the training to all 10 locations to teach 200-300 staff members and volunteers how to better serve people with disabilities in emergency preparedness and disaster response. The WID also will develop disability resource directories for each location, including information on local community-based disability organizations.
"Through this generous Verizon grant, the WID and the Red Cross will have an opportunity to create new approaches to disaster preparedness that will result in creative ideas to improve responsiveness for each and every one of us," said Kathy Martinez, executive director, World Institute on Disability.
Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston said, "The upheaval and trauma caused by a disaster take a tremendous physical and emotional toll on everyone involved. "Increasing accessibility for those with disabilities is a key issue for the foundation, and Verizon is proud to partner with the WID and the American Red Cross to play a role in providing better service and response to those affected."
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education through its signature program Thinkfinity.org; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
About the World Institute for Disability (WID)
WID's mission is to advance the human and civil rights of people with disabilities through research, training, advocacy and public education. With an emphasis on social and economic equity, WID has worked to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to live as productive and contributing members of society.
WID's programs address a variety of issues that directly affect people's ability to live full and independent lives. Currently three major projects work in support of employment - a cornerstone of independent living - as it is closely tied to individuals' ability to be economically self-sufficient, empowered and autonomous. They are: Project Vision, Access to Assets, and Disability Benefits 101 information services. Complementary WID initiatives work to increase access to education, assistive technology, healthcare and transportation.
Founded in 1983 by leaders of the disability movement, WID is a 501(C) (3) organization based in Oakland, California. A majority of WID's staff and board of directors are people with disabilities, allowing the organization to maintain a grassroots focus informed by a diverse disability perspective.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 62 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.