For some volunteers, money isn’t enough

Posted: Friday, September 23, 2005

Victoria Whitney says she’s willing to put her life on hold and head south to the heart of Hurricane Katrina’s swath of destruction and do whatever is necessary to help relieve the suffering.

A full-time employee of the Soldotna nightclub Hooligans and the owner of Kalifornsky Lodging and Guide Service, Whitney has signed on with an American Red Cross program that trains volunteers for onsite duty amid the havoc.

“I’m willing to go anywhere they need me,” said the Soldotna resident. “I’ll do anything they need me to do — deliver goods, cleanup, work in the kitchen, provide respite care for kids, anything.”

The Kenai Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross has been training people like Whitney, volunteers who already have some emergency skills, but more importantly, have the time. Seven are ready to go, and another group is undergoing training, according to Annette Hakkinen, branch manager of the Kenai Peninsula Red Cross.

Those who have completed a training program and are on the organization’s Disaster Services Human Resources list include Whitney, as well as Frank Keener of Soldotna, Glenn and Cheryl Flothe of Cooper Landing, Sheryl and Dale Lloyd of Nikiski and Greg Landeis of Soldotna.

Training takes about a week and a half, Hakkinen said. Volunteers must be willing to make a 21-day commitment, have their own personal medical insurance, be current in CPR and first aid and sign up for the Red Cross training.

The national American Red Cross will deploy them, Hakkinen said.

Whitney’s employer, Sally Hoskins, has given her a three-week leave of absence beginning whenever she gets the call, Whitney said. That could be tomorrow or six months from now, but more likely sooner than later.

Hooligans, meanwhile, helped raise money at a benefit last week, she said.

Whitney not only runs a business and holds down a full-time job, she’s also the mother of an 11-year-old son and has assorted animals to care for. She said that when she first mentioned she’d be willing to go help out Katrina victims, she found herself inundated with offers from friends willing to look after her son and the animals while she’d be gone.

Toys for Katrina’s smallest victims

Area churches have been collecting stuffed animals and unbreakable dolls to send to the smallest victims of Hurricane Katrina. Toys can be new or used, but if used must be clean and in excellent condition.

For general information, call Pastor Jim Pearson at 262-5359.

People looking to make donations may call the following churches:

· Abundant Life Assembly of God in Sterling at 262-7266

· Sterling Lutheran Church at 262-9259

· Soldotna Church of God at 262-4729

· Soldotna Bible Chapel at 262-4865

· Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on K-Beach Road at 262-6442

· Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, Kenai at 283-4555

· New Life Assembly, Kenai, at 283-7752

· Church of the Nazarene, Nikiski, at 252-5773

· Lighthouse Community Church, N. Kenai, at 776-8234

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