Southern Maryland Chapter Starts Clowning Around with Disaster Relief by Partnering with Red Nose Relief

Southern Maryland, Feb 7, 2006--The Southern Maryland Chapter and Red Nose Relief have reached a tentative agreement to work together. The working agreement lays the foundation for training and participating of the members of Red Nose Relief with the Red Cross disaster relief team in Southern Maryland and throughout the US.

In September 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States. A Shrine clown from Atlanta, Georgia, Jeremy Cohen who works for CNN recognized that the talents of the clown arts community should be harnessed to relieve not only the stress and suffering following this disaster, but those in the future. Only a few days after Katrina’s landfall, he set out to contact the major clowning organizations across North America and soon, many of their leaders had united to develop what soon became Red Nose Relief. For the first time, an organization was created to provide the mechanism for unified, orderly clown arts response to a major North American catastrophe. One of the people contacted was Waldorf’s own, Bob “Bunky” Gretton.

Members of Red Nose Relief will provide support and smiles to not only survivors, but also relief agencies that have individuals involved in recovery operations. Additionally, they will marshal all the clown talent that makes itself available to Red Nose Relief to work in their communities to raise funds for the American Red Cross, and support the Red Cross by volunteering their time and talents, and to offer community support by contributing to the total effort being mounted in response to a particular disaster.

“We plan to use the talents of these professionals to bring a little humor in face of disaster and other events,” said Mike Zabko, CEO of the Southern Maryland Chapter. “It’s a smile that can make a very bad situation change direction, and we believe that “Bunky” and others like him can make that happen. We are also planning to use Red Nose Relief volunteers to provide a little levity in some of the Community Disaster Education classes we provide, which will hopefully cause people to eagerly accept disaster preparedness education in our local community” Zabko continued.

With members in almost every state and even other countries the missions of the Red Nose Relief organization is to serve and support all people by bringing smiles, joy, love and laughter to those who have been impacted by a catastrophe. To provide guidelines and train volunteers to work effectively with other humanitarian organizations while administering a unique form of comic relief.

The American Red Cross is the only non-governmental organization mandated by the U.S. Congress to "alleviate human suffering" of victims of disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and technological and transportation crises. To continue its humanitarian mission, the American Red Cross relies on donations of money and time from the public. All relief services, including hotel, food, and clothes vouchers, are gifts.

Trained volunteers are the backbone of the Red Cross Disaster Relief Program, whose services include mental health services, damage assessment of residential property, and food and temporary housing.

Everyday, 24 hours a day, the American Red Cross of Southern Maryland volunteers provides relief for local people whose homes were affected by fires and natural disaster.

Disaster Action Teams, consisting volunteers, are on-call around the clock, 365 days a year. Once on-site, members of the team survey and assess the damage, and provide for the immediate needs of people displaced by the fire or disaster. These emergency needs may include food, clothing and temporary housing.

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