“My husband and son are disabled, so advocacy is something I’ve been doing on their behalf for years,” says American Red Cross volunteer Dana Goldsmith. “To do so on behalf of the Red Cross is really exciting.”
Goldsmith is advocating as the Disability Integration lead for her home Red Cross chapter, region, and division at home in Colorado. In late February 2018, she deployed to Indiana to help lead Disability Integration during the flood relief operation, along with local volunteer J.R. Raines.
“There’s an expertise level that comes with people that live with it every day. Who to call, where to find resources,” Goldsmith says. “It’s about bringing that disability piece to the table in everything we do. That’s our goal.”
Disability Integration, which the Red Cross began about a year and a half ago, means more than simply making sure shelters are accessible. In Indiana, for example, Goldsmith and Raines are putting together a resource guide for the region to identify additional support available for people with disabilities that will help long after this disaster response is wrapped up, and are working to build relationships with the Center for Independent Living to use their facilities for future training.
“We’re trying to make volunteerism more inclusive,” Goldsmith says. “Training, classes, locations, it all has to be accessible. People want to help, but there’s not a lot of agencies that can do that. We can.”
“I do a lot of positions with the Red Cross,” says Raines. “Disaster Action Team, Services to Armed Forces. I wanted to be in the military, this is my way to be in the military.”