Who participates in disaster relief and recovery efforts?


AmeriCares provides immediate response to emergency medical needs and supports long-term humanitarian assistance programs for people around the world. AmeriCares solicits donations of medicines, medical supplies, and other relief materials from the United States and international manufacturers. Then, it delivers them quickly and efficiently to indigenous healthcare and welfare professionals around the world.

In areas affected by disaster, AmeriCares works with international and local NGOs, hospitals, health networks, and government ministries to identify the most urgent needs and deliver supplies quickly and safely.

*To find out more about the AmeriCares model and its success, and to find out how you might support its work, visit

Red Cross Disaster Relief

The American Red Cross is required by Congressional charter to undertake disaster relief activities to ease the suffering caused by a disaster. The Red Cross works both at the local level, responding even to house fires, at the national level, responding to larger-scale emergencies such as hurricanes and floods, and in the international arena, providing ongoing humanitarian aid to victims of natural disaster and war. Emergency assistance includes:

• Feeding stations
• Shelter
• Cleaning supplies
• Comfort kits, first aid
• Blood and blood products
• Food, clothing
• Emergency transportation
• Assistance with rent
• Home repairs and household items
• Medical supplies

The American Red Cross may also provide additional assistance for long-term recovery when other relief assistance and/or personal resources are not adequate to meet disaster-caused needs, and the American Red Cross will also provide referrals to the government and other agencies providing disaster assistance.

In Nonprofitorganizations are the Backbone of Disaster Relief Efforts

Less-developed countries often seem to be hit disproportionately by disasters such as earthquakes, drought, et cetera. Whether this is statistically true or not, the fact that these nations possess fewer resources in general means that they are truly strapped in times of crisis.

Less-developed countries need more external financial and physical relief than wealthier victims of disaster might. Thus, there exist many emergency relief organizations that operate on an ongoing basis and are prepared to deal with such crises when they occur, regardless of where in the world the disaster strikes.

Local religious organizations are at the forefront of disaster relief.

Disasters tend to be a time when people within a community pull together; churches and other places of worship provide a center for such community activities, and even serve as shelters in times of emergencies. Also, because religious organizations tend to hold charitable virtue as a primary tenet of their faiths and missions, they tend to be at the forefront of mobilizing and providing community-based assistance in times of emergency or disaster.

In the United States, these organizations include (but are not limited to):

• Adventist Community Services (ACS)
• Catholic Charities USA Disaster Response
• The Christian Disaster Response (CDR)
• The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC)
• The Church of the Brethren Disaster Response
• Church World Service (CWS) Disaster Response
• The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief
• The Friends Disaster Service (FDS)
• The International Relief Friendship Foundation (IRFF)
• The International Association of Jewish Vocational Services (IAJVS)
• The Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR)
• Mennonite Disaster Services
• The Salvation Army
• The Society of St. Vincent De Paul
• The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
• The UJA Federations of North America
• The United Methodist Committee on Relief

If you are affiliated with a place of worship or a particular faith, chances are that you will find out more about disaster relief efforts, when you are needed, and how you can help. If you are not already affiliated with such a group, you can still work with or through local churches, temples, meeting houses and mosques to join the community response to disasters.

Th Government Isn't Behind Everything!

While the government is often responsible for basic emergency planning and some emergency relief funding, there are myriad disaster relief agencies and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are involved in disaster relief.

These organizations provide humanitarian response, disaster service, and assistance as their primary mission, or part of their overall mission of service. Disaster Relief International, the Family Care Foundation, the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and local religious organizations are all involved in disaster relief. You can find more informations on these organizations and how to lend a hand by doing a simple search online.

The Volunteers of America

The Volunteers of America is involved in initial response services aimed at meeting the critical needs of disaster victims in the United States, such as making trucks available for transporting victims and supplies to designated shelters. VOA also collects and distributes donated goods and provides mental health care services for survivors of disaster.

In addition to disaster relief and recovery, Volunteers of America also offers a wide range of services to youths at risk, frail elderly, abused and neglected children, people with disabilities, homeless individuals and many others. Though their mission is primarily domestic, VOA also has some international services. Visit for more information.

Direct Relief International

Direct Relief International works to improve the health and lives of people living in developing countries and people victimized by disaster or war. DRI supports locally-run facilities, hospitals, and programs that provide health services. DRI provides these facilities with medicines, vitamins, supplies and equipment that DRI receives through donations.

Direct Relief International ensures that materials are delivered in the most secure, most efficient manner possible by coordinating with local organizations and other international relief organizations. Direct Relief provides materials based on the specific requests of partner organizations, all of which demonstrate the capacity, commitment, and credibility to provide the health services required by victims of disaster in their area.

*For more information on Direct Relief's work or how you can help, visit

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Byron White