DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — One misconception Rik Chapman hears when he talks to people about the Red Cross is they think it only responds to disasters on a national or international scale.
“Statistically, the Red Cross responds to a house fire in the United States about every eight minutes,” Chapman said. “When you think about that, it’s pretty local.”
In fact, the Red Cross has responded to several house fires in Burnet County over the past year. The volunteers arrive to offer blankets and help with prescriptions and other immediate needs.
“It’s really about helping your neighbors,” Chapman said.
The problem is the Burnet County area only has two Red Cross volunteers — Chapman is one of them — who quickly respond to local emergencies. Chapman said more volunteers would be a great help.
The Highland Lakes Amateur Radio Club is hosting a meeting with the American Red Cross on at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the Westside Park Community Center, 1704 Second St. in Marble Falls. The event is open to anyone interested in learning about the American Red Cross and emergency preparedness.
“The backbone of the Red Cross is the volunteers,” Chapman said. “Ninety percent of it is made up of volunteers.”
Chapman jumped into the organization as a volunteer about 3½ years ago at the invitation of a fellow ham radio operator. While he is pushing for more volunteers to help with local emergencies, Chapman noted a big part of the American Red Cross mission remains assisting during larger disasters.
“I’ve been to 17 disasters around the country for the Red Cross,” he said. “It’s been an incredible thing to help people.”
During the Sept. 30 meeting, he and others will discuss emergency preparedness. Chapman said it won’t be an in-depth look at preparing for all emergencies but what people can do to get started.
Along with all the other projects the American Red Cross tackles, helping people prepare for disasters and emergencies is one of them. Chapman said the organization even offers programs for schoolchildren called the Pillowcase Project to help them train for any emergency they might face.
“There’s quite a bit to the American Red Cross,” Chapman added.
He’ll be on hand to talk about some of those programs that can benefit families, individuals, and communities.
He’ll also talk about what it means to be an American Red Cross volunteer, something in which he truly believes.
“I don’t think I’ve met a more well-intentioned group of people than Red Cross volunteers,” Chapman said. “It’s a very interesting group of people.”