Lending a hand long-distance
With fires engulfing the West and tropical storms flooding the South, Sandy resident Dayna Brown felt called to help at a national level.
For the past month, Brown has worked with Crisis Cleanup Hotline to facilitate debris removal for people whose homes have been damaged and destroyed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The nonprofit organization began its efforts in 2012 with Hurricane Sandy. Its mission is simply to help provide organization and facilitate collaboration between relief groups in times of crisis. Working for the hotline is a job anyone in the country can do.
"We're so far away," Brown said. "Besides donating things to be sent there, which is also good and a nice thing to do, we can't do much. I wanted to help more."
The 42-year-old's call to serve was instilled in her as a child by her mother, who volunteered with several church and community organizations in Portland while Brown was growing up.
"I grew up learning that we're supposed to help each other (and) bear each other's burdens," she explained. "My mom was big on service (and) I grew up with it and hope I'm doing the same for my kids. The LDS church is big on helping. We just kind of take that to heart and do as much as we can."
Now, as a 13-year member of the Sandy community, Brown enjoys serving her neighbors near and far. She is the vice president of the Sandy High School Booster Club and volunteers each year with her family for the Sandy Solv-It cleanups.
"It's been a good experience," she added. "It can be heartbreaking, (but) it's nice because a lot of people are calling for neighbors. It's nice to see people — especially in a world like today — are looking out for (each) other. You watch the news and it's all races against races and political parties against political parties. It's nice to see when the bad things happen, communities come together. I've been really impressed with people looking out for each other down there. I think that's what's made me want to help more."
Every morning Brown gets her older children to school then takes a few calls while her little ones are still asleep. She logs onto the website, then types in her number and availability for calls to be directed to her landline phone. She talks to the caller, retrieving their contact information and location of the house they'd like serviced, and provides them a work order number.
Sometimes the calls are short and to-the-point, and sometimes people call not only for help cleaning up their homes but to talk. So far, Brown's longest call was 45 minutes.
"They're under a very stressful situation does there," she said. "It's nice to talk to people."
Besides being a positive experience for her and a helpful one for those affected by the hurricanes, Brown said working with the hotline is not as time consuming and demanding as one may think.
"This is actually a really easy way to volunteer," Brown explained. "I have seven kids — that's my full-time thing — so it's when I have time (that I take calls). Even 15 minutes on the phone helps. Every hour someone volunteers on the phone, they save 27.5 volunteer hours in the field."
For more information, visit www.crisiscleanup.org.