When news of a natural disaster makes headlines, lots of people want to lend a hand but don’t know how best to get involved. And people in affected communities need help but may not know where to find it.
So a nonprofit called Cajun Navy Ground Force uses social media to connect volunteer relief workers with the communities and individuals who need help.
“Every message we put out there is, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on. We need you to roll up your sleeves, gas up your vehicle and come on down here and help,’” says founder Rob Gaudet.
He says volunteers come live in a disaster-affected community, often for weeks. They focus on supporting elderly and disabled individuals, who may need the most support.
Volunteers distribute supplies, clear fallen branches, clean out homes, and help residents find valued possessions among storm debris.
“Things like that bring a peace of mind and a hope to individuals that lets them feel like they can move forward and begin to rebuild their lives,” Gaudet says.
He says that over the past seven years, the group has used social media to mobilize more than 20,000 volunteers from all over the country — to show up where they’re needed most and get to work.
Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman and Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media