For Starkville Daily News
The Oktibbeha Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services has been named a State Voluntary Organization Active in Disaster. The designation recognizes the work of OSERVS and enhances its communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation with other disaster relief groups.
“Prior to the founding of National VOAD, numerous organizations served disaster victims independently of one another. People who wanted to volunteer to help their neighbors affected by disaster were often frustrated by the variety of organizations in some areas of service and a lack of opportunities to serve,” explained Carol Moss Read, board chair of OSERVS. “Being at the table with non-profits, private, and public disaster relief leaders puts us in a great position to serve our community and our neighbors.”
Today, National VOAD is a leader and voice for the nonprofit organizations and volunteers that work in all phases of disaster—preparedness, response, relief, recovery, and mitigation. National VOAD is the primary point of contact for voluntary organization in the National Response Coordination Center (at FEMA headquarters) and is a signatory to the National Response Plan.
Rev. Don Gann, Interim President of Mississippi VOAD, said he is delighted to have OSERVS as a part of MS VOAD. “MS VOAD serves an important role in supporting the MS Emergency Mgt Agency with volunteer providing vital relief, recovery and rebuilding after disaster events. We count it as a privilege to serve alongside OSERVS.
Legislation was passed this year that allows counties to contribute to local chapters of VOAD. “We are pleased with this recognition and the possibility of receiving county funds,” Read said. “Community support for OSERVS has been outstanding; we are so glad that we have been able to assist local communities after the tornadoes, too.”
OSERVS sent a group of 22 individuals to Smithville following the tornado, and two groups have been to Webster County. A third trip is scheduled for Thursday, May 26. To volunteer for that group, call (662) 384-2200.
“One homeowner told us that she prayed for the help of an angel. At the end of the day, she said that the OSERVS volunteers were a group of angels, sent by God. I think that’s an affirmation that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Becky Wilkes, Executive Director of OSERVS.