When disaster strikes, Shirley and Rudy Senarighi are ready to help as volunteers with the American Red Cross. It might be responding to hurricanes such as Katrina and Sandy in distant parts of the country, to tornadoes in central Wisconsin, or to a house fire right in their own city of Sturgeon Bay.
“We’ve been on national deployments together and local fires together. It’s something we thought we could do as a couple,” Shirley said.
The Senarighis said they are prepared to go wherever there is a need because they have seen firsthand how much the Red Cross can help during a disaster or tragedy.
“When we go out to a very large disaster, the Red Cross moves in and sets up this multi-tiered and multi-faceted business in a matter of 24 hours and is just ready to go. It happens because people have been trained before they arrive,” Shirley said.
The Senarighis and Diane Knutson will offer Disaster Services: An Overview, the American Red Cross basic volunteer training course for Door County residents on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 5:30 to 9 pm at the Door County Senior Resource Center, 832 N. 14th Ave., Sturgeon Bay.
“This is the first time in several years that it’s been offered here,” Shirley said. “At one time there was a Red Cross office in Sturgeon Bay on Jefferson Street, and when there was an office we were able to offer training.”
But consolidation eliminated the Sturgeon Bay office and up until recently, you had to go to Green Bay or the Fox Valley for training, which means fewer Door County residents have had the Red Cross training.
“This training is to help recruit volunteers locally, but the same training is the first training that would be needed if there are people in our county who would like to travel throughout the state and nation for disaster relief,” said Rudy Senarighi.
Rudy said he really enjoys being a Red Cross volunteer, but, “it’s this double-edged sword. You get excited about helping, but you realize something bad has to happen to use your skills.”
The course provides information about ways participants can help their community prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters. Participants will also learn about volunteer opportunities at their local Red Cross chapter.
The couple is hoping people from throughout the county sign up for the volunteer training.
“It needs continual work to maintain volunteers,” Shirley said. “Right now, there’s just not very many of us.”
When disaster strikes, there is a call list.
“There is flexibility,” Shirley said. “We are volunteers, and you can’t be available all the time. So it would be nice to have Red Cross volunteers stationed throughout the county.”
The Senarighis point out that anyone can volunteer and that all kinds of skills are needed.
“Pretty much anybody who would like to volunteer can help out,” Rudy said.
To register, contact Judy Gregory, Disaster Services Director, at [email protected], 920.227.4281 or 920.371.9014.