Parkway Senior Center will use the $50,000 funding
to bring in a disaster recovery expert and to recruit skilled volunteers from the community
As part of a state-wide initiative under the direction of Governor Cuomo, the New York State Commission on National & Community Service has provided each of the 10 Regional Volunteer Centers (RVCs) across the State with $50,000 in funding to increase their capacity to engage volunteers to help prepare New York’s communities for potential disasters of the type experienced with Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy. The RVCs were created by the Commission three years ago and have successfully recruited and placed over one million volunteers during that time. The Parkway Senior Center is the Mohawk Valley Regional Volunteer Center (MVRVC) for the 6 county area of Oneida, Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, Otsego & Schoharie.
The State Commission received $500,000 to cover this disaster preparedness initiative from the Federal Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in recognition of the potential need and of the efforts made by the RVCs in responding to prior disasters. As stated in the CNCS FY2014 Congressional Budget Justification, “New York State’s regional volunteer center infrastructure was a leading entity coordinating volunteers and national service resources during the response to Hurricane Sandy, and it continues to connect New Yorkers with opportunities to support the state’s ongoing restoration efforts.”
Kelly Walters, Executive Director, “We appreciate the Governor’s and the Commission’s support in helping our communities prepare for future weather-related and other potential crises that we might face. In the past, we’ve always pulled together to overcome adversity. This support will help us be even better prepared.”
The MVRVC has assisted with recruitment of volunteers for the flood disaster relief efforts in Herkimer and Oneida Counties in July of this year as well as secured donations of cleaning supplies from its partner RVC in Long Island, NY. As part of its role, the MVRVC has helped partners register on its website so that they could post volunteer opportunities during the disaster and directed volunteers to register to ensure that they could be directed to where help was most needed.
The funds will be used to hire one full-time employee, or consultant, with extensive experience in disaster services and volunteer management to serve as a Regional Disaster Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL). Each Regional Disaster VAL will be housed within a Regional Volunteer Center and build relationships among Federal and State government, and voluntary, faith-based, and community entities on a regional level.
The Regional Disaster VALs will recruit and train skilled disaster volunteers across the State. These skills include, but are not limited to, trades such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters or volunteer management. Members of the community who feel they have appropriate skills to help in disaster relief may apply by going to the website of the MVRVC at mohawkvalleyvolunteers.org
The VALS will also engage twenty military veterans in disaster service opportunities including: preparedness, response, or recovery. Regional Disaster VALS will meet with the State Division of Veterans Affairs, local veterans’ organizations, and State military representatives to identify best practices to engage veterans who could serve as Disaster Volunteers or State Disaster Volunteer Leaders. “We are particularly inspired by the opportunity to have our veterans be part of this effort,” said Mark Walter, Executive Director of the New York State Commission on National & Community Service. “This initiative will capitalize on the organizational and management expertise of veterans, as well as include them as problem solvers in their communities.”
The Parkway Senior Center (PSC) is a non-profit organization, who has served the Greater Utica area for over 50 years. PSC’s mission is to provide resources to empower people to remain healthy and active. It accomplishes its mission through program and volunteer opportunities. PSC proudly sponsors several volunteer programs, including the Mohawk Valley Regional Volunteer Center and the Oneida County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
The New York State Commission on National and Community Service was established in 1994 by an Executive Order of the Governor, and administers programs funded by the National Community Service Trust Act of 1993, including AmeriCorps State and AmeriCorps Education Awards programs. The Commission members are diverse and bi-partisan and are appointed by the Governor.
The State Commission on National & Community Service works collaboratively with the Corporation for National & Community Service and New York State Education Department to administer 240 national service programs that engage more than 80,000 volunteers annually in the State of New York. The State Commission and its partners leverage the impact of AmeriCorps, VISTA, and Senior Corps programs to address the needs identified in the State’s service and civic engagement agenda in the core areas of education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, disaster services, veterans and military families, and economic opportunity. In addition, the State Commission leads the efforts of a statewide network of ten regional volunteer centers that partner with community-based organizations to deliver training and resources that build volunteer management capacity in order to more effectively meet state and local needs.