At VolunteerLocal, we’re lucky to work with organizations making a real difference in industries, countries and cities all over the world.
Today, we’re spotlighting Rebuilding Our Community Sonoma County, a group providing much-needed support in Northern California. We caught up with Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Pollock to hear more about how her organization is helping to coordinate recovery efforts for survivors of Sonoma County fires.
When did ROC Sonoma County begin working with fire survivors? What prompted your founders to start the organization?
In response to the devastating Sonoma County fires of October 2017, Rebuilding Our Community (ROC) Sonoma County grew out of the catalytic efforts of many local agencies that had the experience with communities facing the impacts of disasters to understand the resources needed to promote long-term recovery. These agencies included VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters), FEMA, CA Office of Emergency Services, and many others.
The founders of ROC Sonoma County saw the need to establish and maintain a network within and on behalf of non-profit, governmental, faith-based, business, and other organizations and agencies to provide a coordinated recovery effort for Sonoma County fire survivors. The ROC Resource Center is a hub from which fire survivors can access a direct path to these local human service entities.
What are some of the roles your volunteers play in your organization?
Our volunteers support the ROC Resource Center in these roles:
- Client Intake and Resource Specialist: These volunteers gather initial information from fire survivor clients, enter client information into the tracking system, assist clients with paperwork, and refer clients to local resources for assistance. They reduce the intake and referral tasks for disaster case managers, which enables those manager to spend more time assisting clients and improving program effectiveness.
- Data Entry: Data Entry volunteers mainly enter client information into the tracking system. This is a key part of maintaining client records, which assists all organization members that access this information.
- Reception/helpline: These volunteers greet visitors, answer phones, provide basic resource guidance, research client status, assist clients with paperwork, and schedule appointments. The benefit of having volunteers performing these administrative tasks is that it enables staff members to spend more time assisting clients and improving program effectiveness.
What most inspires you about your volunteers?
Their dedication and passion to assist fire survivors, their enthusiasm in learning complex systems and processes, and their willingness to devote their time for the long term.
Anything else you’d like to add about your organization?
Since the ROC Resource Center opened in July 2018, its staff and volunteers have assisted more than 1,000 community members that were affected by the October 2017 Sonoma County fires. In addition, the Resource Center serves as a central meeting place for ROC committees and partner agencies, hosting more than 30 meetings per month. As the community continues to recover, the ROC Resource Center will continue to serve as the hub that provides a direct path to the assistance our neighbors need to return to the lives they had before the fires.