People rarely think about disasters until they are a threat, but the American Red Cross is always ready to provide relief to victims of various emergencies.
In order to raise funds to provide relief for area victims, the Red Cross sponsors a golf tournament every year on the Kenai Peninsula. This years ninth annual American Red Cross Golf Classic will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Birch Ridge Golf Course in Soldotna.
Debra Holle, director for the American Red Cross on the Peninsula, said the tournament is the only Red Cross fund-raiser and has raised as much as $11,000 in past years.
"It gets us well on our way," she said.
The money raised will be used to respond to disasters on the peninsula, she said, and to help the people affected.
Red Cross is a nationwide group of primarily volunteers, with a small paid staff, that help in preventing, preparing for, and responding to emergencies and providing relief to victims of natural disasters and other emergencies.
The Red Cross, located in the Bridges Community Resource Network building in Soldotna, opened an office on the peninsula in May 1999. The office has helped more than 20 families since the beginning of this year and trained more than 500 people in lifesaving skills. The office also provides training in disaster services.
"The value of Red Cross on the peninsula is paramount," Holle said. "We are the most humanitarian organization you can find."
Holle said she believes that it is unwise for a community not to prepare for the worst, since every disaster has its own set of chaotic and unique circumstances.
But Holle said the Red Cross can't do everything by itself. She is looking forward to working with individual volunteers and other organizations to develop and test community disaster plans.
She said she also is interested in looking for people in the community to be trained in the needed skills to respond in the first three days of a disaster.
"I do not even have 30 trained volunteers," Holle said.
She also needs a volunteer coordinator to help with health and safety programs, as well as instructors willing to teach courses.
The Red Cross is a member of the National Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster, which The Salvation Army and various churches also are a part of. The board of directors for the Red Cross plans soon on developing a working relationship with more organizations in the area that can provide assistance in time of disaster.
Holle said the Red Cross needs other organizations to play an important role in helping the community prepare for, and assist during, a time of need.
"We need each other," Holle said.
The Red Cross was designed as a lead agency by the U.S. Congress to respond to a major disaster, Holle said.
She said organizations need to get together and consider what functions they will serve and be ready to work together to pick up the pieces when danger strikes.
The Red Cross, aside from providing relief, also holds classes in CPR and first-aid to facilitate awareness and raise money for the organization.
The shotgun start for the golf classic is scheduled for 8 a.m. with a free breakfast, sponsored by Odies, at 7 a.m. while players check in.
The winning team will receive jackets, first aid kits and cash prizes.
Door prizes will be given away at the awards ceremony and Chinese auction immediately following the tournament.
"With every swing of the golf club," Holle said, "it helps us do the work of the Red Cross."
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