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First responders and even power line crews do a great job responding to disasters and emergency events. But once the immediate safety concerns are taken care of and first responders get back to, who takes care of the needs of the community?
That is where the Hand Up Network group of response teams and personnel step in.
“We are focused on the long term, bringing teams of local people who are dedicated to long-term work to help rebuild and get the community back in the position they were in before anything happened,” said Sam Smith, CEO of Hand Up Network. “First responders look to us to help manage volunteers that want to be a part, and we can do that with teams based on the specific needs for any situation. It could be tarp crews for roof damage, or medical teams, chain saw teams or even prayer and emotional support. We do a little bit of everything.”
Hand Up Network works in 37 East Texas counties, including all of the TVEC service territory.
Most recently, their teams were in place ahead of this year’s tornadoes near Canton and Cedar Creek Lake, and they had crisis response personnel on site after the tragic school bus crash in Athens.
“Our entire network is basically for anyone in need,” Smith said. “Any incident that happens, you can be confident that someone from our network will be there almost immediately.”
To accomplish this, Hand Up Network uses technology and a lot of communication among volunteers.
“It is easy to be a volunteer; all you have to do is sign up on our website and then we can find out what skills you have,” Smith said. “And we can use anyone. For any abilities you have, we can likely find a place for you, should the need arise. That doesn’t mean that if you sign up today you will be needed tomorrow, but knowing what skills you have means we can develop teams quickly and when it is time to respond, we can put together a team of people with the right skills to take care of the needs in that particular situation.”
For more information or to volunteer, visit handupnetwork.com.