Red Cross looking for more volunteers

CONYERS - The American Red Cross is looking for volunteers to help families in Rockdale and Newton counties. The Red Cross will hold two information public meetings this month to drum up support.

The Red Cross meetings will be held July 21 and July 22, in Covington and Conyers, respectively.

Monday's meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Covington Fire Department community room, 2101 Pace St. The second meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Microtel Inn and Suites conference room, 1412 Old McDonough Highway in Conyers.

Becky Ballard Mask, a Newton County resident and an assistant captain for one of the American Red Cross Area Disaster Action Teams in Atlanta, will talk to residents about what it means to be a Red Cross volunteer.

"It is vitally important for people to volunteer for Red Cross," Mask said. "Without volunteers, we would not be able to respond to fires or national disasters in order to give immediate emergency assistance to our neighbors in need."

According to the American Red Cross, an average of four families a day will turn to a Red Cross volunteer for help following a home or apartment fire in metro Atlanta.

Area Disaster Action Teams, such as the one led by Mask in Newton and Rockdale counties, respond immediately to provide temporary shelter, replacement clothing, meals and emotional support.

Red Cross officials said they need more volunteers to help families locally. Mask said she is hoping to recruit them at the two information gatherings in Covington and Conyers.

Mask, who recently retired after working as an adult probation officer in Covington for 30 years, said she became interested in volunteering after she had a conversation with a Red Cross volunteer.

She moved quickly through the ranks as a member of the Eastern District Disaster Action Team (DAT), which provides around-the-clock Red Cross emergency services for disaster-stricken families in DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties.

"I started as a trainee and soon found myself as the assistant captain of the Newton/Rockdale team," Mask said. "The one thing I hear most often from our clients is that they never expected this to happen to them."

Mask is also a member of the national Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources system for responding to major disasters nationwide. She assisted with the 2007 Bluffton University bus crash in Atlanta and the tornado relief operations in Atlanta, Macon and Woodstock this spring.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.