Archive for May, 2013


When tragedy strikes, like the recent tornado in Oklahoma, I’m reminded of the very serious responsibility we at Volunteers of America assume in the lives of the people we serve. While we’re not a first responder in times of emergency, like The Red Cross, we do have clients in facilities all over the country who often find themselves in harm’s ways when a natural disaster occurs.

Many of these people – be they children, the elderly or people with intellectual or physical disabilities – are truly dependent on us for their day-to-day care, and it’s up to us to ensure that they remain safe and accounted for. Others, like our homeless clients or residents in Volunteers of America affordable housing communities, may not be under our direct guardianship, but still need our help to find new places to live when homes are destroyed by fire, weather or other catastrophes.

Volunteers of America is an organization that’s often at its best when things are at their worst. In the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina, when I was still CEO of our Texas affiliate, all members of our “family” joined together to help those displaced in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. In many cases, this required moving disabled and elderly clients to Texas or Kentucky or other far-off places where they could be accommodated in the aftermath of the storm. For many it was a long road back to normalcy, but we stood by them to make sure their needs were met. Even though this meant, for many of us, long hours away from family and friends who were also reeling from the aftermath of the storm, we didn’t give it a second thought. It’s just what we do.

For those who lost their homes and belongings in the Oklahoma tornado, as well as other natural disasters, the road to recovery will be long, as well. Fortunately, Volunteers of America clients and facilities in the region were largely unaffected by the recent storm … but as we know, the potential for another emergency is always on the horizon and we must be prepared to react quickly to protect the people we serve.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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