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DeKalb County Red Cross chapter seeks volunteers

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 10:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 11:02 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – As an American Red Cross volunteer, Somonauk resident Joe Dillett traveled to New York three times to help feed those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The October 2012 hurricane killed 73 people and displaced thousands, but Dillett was there to help deliver 36,000 meals a day from Staten Island a month after the storm. In December 2012, he went to Manhattan to distribute cleaning supplies, and that January, he helped deliver 2,500 meals a day on Long Island.

"It feels very rewarding," Dillett said. "When I came home in November, I couldn't wait to go back. I just hate to leave a job undone."

Now Dillett needs help. He said the American Red Cross DeKalb County chapter only has about 20 volunteers, and they are in need of more. Volunteers would respond to both local and national disasters, and receive training to learn how to respond to disasters.

When a volunteer initially signs up, they would be required to undergo training in an area of their choice. Some training areas include sheltering, mass feeding and disaster assessment. Volunteers also are subject to background checks and must attend an orientation.

Current volunteer opportunities include being a community presence volunteer who would be responsible for office duties and a disaster services volunteer who would respond to local disasters.

Joe Markendorf is a community presence volunteer in Red Cross' local office, 8 Health Services Drive, Suite 1, DeKalb. He has been a volunteer or about one month.

As a retired teacher and professor in Chicago, Markendorf, 60, has settled in DeKalb and assists with calls in the DeKalb office. He also would help in immediate disasters such as floods and fires.

"It's very rewarding to be back in the workplace, especially in an organization where people do care," Markendorf said.

Red Cross DeKalb County often responds to fires in the area, provides debit cards, food and shelter to affected families, Dillett said.

Dillett also is working on training people to prepare for a natural disaster.

"There's so much that we're doing in the community," Dillett said. "A new volunteer can come in [and] get involved in all different levels."

To help

To donate or volunteer at American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org.

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