'Together, we can do so much': LSS and volunteer partners work together to fill unmet needs

“Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.” Helen Keller

A sanitation worker needs to pick up garbage every day but doesn’t have proper protective equipment. A family needs masks to protect their health while staying in a homeless shelter. A woman with compromised immunity is afraid to shop in public right now, so her cupboards are nearly bare.

We at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota are proud to work with our partners at Cass-Clay VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) to find solutions for those who might otherwise be overlooked or fall through the cracks.

VOAD members include representatives from long-time disaster-relief organizations such as LSSND, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, as well as public health employees, NDSU Extension members and city emergency managers.

By communicating and working together, the local VOAD has been able to meet multiple requests for help during the pandemic, says Kathryn Fink, Disaster Case Manager at LSSND and Vice Chair of the Cass-Clay VOAD.

Those activities include:

  • Reaching out to three mask-making groups on Facebook to secure, pick up and distribute 40 masks for West Fargo city employees, including essential employees and administrative staff.

  • Coordinating delivery of 20 masks to the Sheyenne Crossings retirement facility in West Fargo.

  • Delivering 80 masks to Clay County Public Health, some of which will go to Churches United for the Homeless to protect shelter clients and other essential staff.

Cass-Clay VOAD will continue coordinating with local mask-makers to fill needs for as long as necessary, Fink says.

The VOAD also has been active with Operation Food Drop, modeled after organizations with similar systems in place, to create a process for efficiently and safely collecting and delivering food to people in need.

Fink says VOAD members anticipate that the organization may grow even busier in the future, especially if COVID-19 numbers surge after the state’s re-opening.

“We’re trying to think about what will be needed four to six weeks from now,” she says.

If you would like to donate masks, food or other community needs to this effort or become a CCVOAD member (it’s free!) contact kathrynf@lssnd.org or call (218) 779-0879.

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– Tammy Swift

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