The American Red Cross Chapter in Luling has been without a director since October when Eric Zammit, former head of the organization, resigned from his position with the nonprofit organization.
Since that time, volunteers have been running the organization.
All emergency calls are dispatched to the main office located in Metairie and in cases of emergency, workers within the parish are notified to come and assist if and when they’re needed.
“We are currently seeking a Red Cross coordinator for the St. Charles area,” Bill Salmeron, emergency director for the Southeast Louisiana Chapter, said. “There are 42 volunteers currently assisting residents from the American Red Cross office in Luling.”
The pay of the job depends on experience, but applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and experience working with emergency services.
“Every day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies, whether it is half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood,” Salmeron said. “42 active volunteers isn’t nearly enough in the entire Luling chapter to help with disasters.”
Salmeron says conducting active recruitment events, like standing outside of Wal-Mart to ask for volunteers, helps. but it’s not nearly enough.
“We try to take advantage of every opportunity to get more volunteers,” he said. “After Hurricane Katrina, we did have an increase in the number of volunteers because a lot of those people were coming from outside of St. Charles Parish.”
Salmeron says volunteers play an important role when it comes to assisting in disasters, but a director to head up the office is definitely needed.
“The office in Luling is being run by volunteers; one person couldn’t respond to everything that happens in the area,” Salmeron said. “Immediately after Katrina, we had an influx of volunteers, but there’s been an impact and we’re slowly getting better.”
Salmeron says the mission of the Red Cross is to meet the needs of residents in crisis by providing the funds they need to sustain them through the difficult times.
“We don’t expect clothing donations or anything like that,” he said. “Our job is to assist with emergency needs like food, shelter, clothes, medication and any type of critical medical devices like wheel chairs, dentures or eyeglasses. The life sustaining medical devices that the person needs to live with is replaced, and we provide individuals with funding to replace these items.”
Salmeron says that the organization receives funding from the United Way of St. Charles Parish, but says donations are also welcomed.
“We give out money to families in crisis in the form of vouchers, so we don’t accept actual clothing or food donations,” he said. “We do receive some funding, but donations are always appreciated.”
Salmeron says the Red Cross doesn’t provide food baskets or clothing items to families in crisis, the organization accepts monetary donations only and supports families in need by issuing vouchers.
“If someone makes a fraudulent claim to the American Red Cross, we have a fraud unit that investigates and we take the crime seriously,” he said.