goldfish wearing a sharkhat

Are you part of team goldfish?

Our Humanity Road volunteers responded to 125 events in 2015 and contributed over 17,000 hours of service.   In 2015 we were rated Top Nonprofit by Guide-star for our commitment to transparency.  Now we need your help, our first quarter campaign goal is to raise $600 in donations.    Join our cause, and be part of Team Goldfish

Everyone deserves the right to call for help. Someone should hear that call.


Disaster Kit For a Service Dog

by Alice McGowen

Planning your personal go-kit is important but don’t forget your service dog. For your animal’s health and safety, you might consider creating two types of go-kits . For instance,  individuals who are power dependent may wish to plan on sheltering at a location with backup generators in advance of  severe storms. Many times this is just for a few hours or overnight until power is restored.   Create one kit just for day trips or overnight planning, and one for longer term evacuation.  Here are recommended items to consider for your service animal go-bag:

Sheltering & Comfort items:

  • Supply of any medications your animal is taking.
  • Week’s supply* of food (Some wet food is recommended to improve hydration)
  • Week’s supply* water.
  • Treats (helps keep life normal and reduces stress)
  • Bowl (small dish soap can be handy)
  • Blanket (Covering cages in large shelters helps calm the animal)
  • Appropriate pet outerwear for weather such as booties or coat
  • Favorite Toy
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic bags and paper towels for cleaning up waste.
  • Disinfectant such as chlorox wipes or sanitizersvest
  • Small bottle of dog’s regular shampoo
  • Crate or other pet carrier
  • Pack a copy of the ADA laws -you may need it to help resolve access issues

*(72 hours is recommended for your smaller go-kit)

Working and Safety items:

  • Booties to protect your dogs feet from glass, sharp objects and cold/hot surfaces
  • Service Vest and ID badge if your dog has one
  • Extra Leash, collar and harness.
  • Pet First Aid Kit
  • Muzzle
  • Small flashlight and spare batteries

Identity Records (Records help with proof of ownership, and access to shelters)  When possible laminate documents or store in water proof baggie/container.

  • Copy of all current vaccinations and health records,
  • Copy of your identity papers (In case you become separated from your dog)
  • License numbers, micro-chip or tattoo numbers and tags.
  • List of allergies if any (food, medication or anything else)
  • Pet Medication (If any) and feeding schedule.
  • Several photos of your animal (you with your animal helps with proof of ownership)
  • Contact numbers for your service dog’s veterinary and other relevant resource numbers

Ken Jorgustin on the “Modern Survival Blog” recommends that you talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. You may consider a pet first aid reference book.

Questions you might wish to ask

When it comes to evacuation what things should you consider?

  1. Talk to your local Red Cross office or dial 211 now and find out what agencies may have services and registries.  Ask when and where you can shelter based on your particular needs.
  2. Is there a Vulnerable Population shelter available near you? (some cities provide them)
  3. Have you made arrangements for your non-service pets and made a disaster kits for them?
  4. What type of transportation services will be available  locally for your specific needs.
  5. Do you have regularly scheduled services such as dialysis, ask what their emergency service plan is for clients?
  6. Do you have home health care services, ask them what is their emergency plan for clients?
  7. Does your electric company have a registry for power-dependent individuals.
  8. Do you receive meals on wheels, if you shelter in place will you be able to provide for your service dog and yourself, does your meal service provider have an emergency plan
  9. Do you have a Pet  Alert Sticker in your window?  If you evacuate with your pet/service dog post a sign  or place duck tape across the sticker with a note on it that says “evacuated”
  10. A set of keys should be given to your “Designated Caregivers” in case you can not take care of your dog.



Impacted region of USA for Blizzard Jonas

Winter Storm Jonas #Blizzard2016

Volunteers activated today in response to Winter Storm Jonas which is impacting states along the east coast. There are event hashtags and location hashtags too many to mention but here are a few #Jonas #blizzard2016 #winterstormjonas #snowmaggedon2016. Below is a state by state summary.  Big thanks to our volunteers working today to monitor and respond.
Martin Luther King Day of Service Banner Jan 18, 2016

#MLKDay of Service

Martin Luther King Day January 18, 2016 is a day of Service

Martin Luther King Day on January 18, 2016 is a day of Service

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities.   Each year citizens and organizations unite to become engaged in service activities to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on the federal holiday, Monday January 18. This is true for digital volunteerism as well.  On this day of service, lend your digital voice to the cause and help lift up those who help bring critical services that stabilize and improve  communications for those impacted by disaster.

This year we invite our social media followers and friends to reach out like and retweet our key disaster response work as well as the work of our partner organizations that support and improve communications in the face of disaster.  We encourage you to get involved and make the King Day of Service, “A Day On, Not a Day Off!”  through digital engagement.  Use your voice in social media to help others by following and retweeting these organizations.


Logo for ITDRCInformation TechnologyITDRC is a non-profit organization of technology professionals who assist communities in crisis with Information, Communications, and Technology resources.  They fulfill this mission through education, planning, and disaster response; by a dedicated team of volunteer technology professionals and corporate partners. To volunteer: visit
Like them on Facebook
Follow and retweet their important work on Twitter



Translators Without BordersTranslators without Borders is an independent non-profit association helping NGOs to extend their humanitarian work by providing free, professional translations.  Knowledge is power.  It saves lives, lifts people out of poverty, ensures better health and nutrition, and creates and maintains economies. Access to information is critical. Language barriers cost lives. Aid groups working in crisis-situations face a mission-critical challenge in disseminating knowledge in the language of those that who need it.   To volunteer: visit
Follow and retweet their important work on Twitter



Cisco TacOps

Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps) quickly deploys personnel and equipment to support the acute phase of emergencies that affects communications. The team establishes IP-based communications for first responders, government agencies, relief organizations and others who require mission-critical connectivity to respond effectively. Cisco TacOps connects the unconnected in the midst of crisis, anywhere in the world. A global capability with a global mission. Follow their important work on Facebook and Twitter.



Humanity Road Logo

Humanity Road is headquartered in Boydton, VA  and is a top rated disaster response nonprofit that monitors social media to save lives. We support aid agencies and first responders during natural disaster and relay urgent needs to those who can respond. Hundreds of lives have been saved and tens of thousands of people have received aid because of supporters like you. Help us close the black hole of communications when disaster strikes.  Volunteer
Follow and retweet our important work on Facebook and Twitter




Volunteer Spotlight – Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

Statistics may be boring for many of us. But they’re critical to understanding and improving the effectiveness of any system. Siobhan derives useful insights from Humanity Road’s disaster response statistics.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Glad to do it. Thanks for your time!

First, tell us about yourself, and what you do day-to-day at HR.

I’m a medical librarian at the National Library of Medicine. I work in the Disaster Information Management Research Center. We work to organize the health information needed by first responders and [healthcare professionals who treat victims] before, during and after disasters.

I log into Skype for Humanity Road a couple of times a week, and gather the numbers from the Urgent Event windows. In other words, I count the hours [our Skype Disaster Desk] is activated for a response, the number of people who responded, and how many responses there have been. Christoph [Dennenmoser] set up an Excel sheet to enter the data in.

I don’t activate during disasters, as I am busy at work myself!

The data is used by Cat and Chris in their reports for HR, to demonstrate how important and active the volunteers are.

Not a glamorous job. But I take it the numbers you gather are useful to HR?

Yes. You may have seen a post from Cat in the Cafe I think that there has been over 3000 volunteer hours on 118 events this year. That is pretty amazing, and it’s important for potential funders to see that HR is really active, and has a strong volunteer force that stays active all year long
Not glamorous, but it gives me the chance to work at my own pace and at my own hours. And at home- something very important for me! I can volunteer from the comfort of my couch.

It’s also important for the emergency response community to know they can rely on HR. Humanity Road has been asked by international agencies to write situation reports for specific events, because of the amazing work of [our] volunteers.

Someone once told me if you don’t report it, it didn’t happen 🙂 While that is not true for HR – [our] work is very visible on [our] website and Twitter page,-it still helps to have statistics to back it up.

So, how did you get started with Humanity Road?

I wanted to do something with disaster response efforts. I saw a real need in the work I do daily. I manage the @NLM_DIMRC Twitter account; doing that, I saw how vital social media is in disaster response. And I wanted something I could do from home. Humanity Road fit the type of volunteer work I wanted to do, and Cat and Chris worked with me to find a place where I could be useful despite my schedule.

What’s the biggest disaster response or other project you’ve tackled while at HR? How did you personally contribute?

I don’t participate in the response efforts. But every year, I summarize the Excel data sheet for HR. Besides just giving numbers, I try to provide a narrative, and find patterns. For example, so far this year we’ve had 8+ events where we’ve kept the Disaster Desk active for over 100 hours. I say 8+, because who knows how long the current activations will last?!

Mostly, what I do is very humbling. I see people active all night, and they get on again in the daytime. There is such a strong core of folks who are dedicated to this work. I am honored to be counted a volunteer alongside them.

What keeps you going? What’s your humanitarian philosophy?

Hmm. Good question. Every person has the right to care, to shelter, to food. Those of us who are lucky enough to have those things must do what we can to assist those who do not have their basic needs met. I feel very strongly that I am lucky to live where I do, and it’s my obligation to use the gifts I have to help others.

Anything else you’d like to mention about your work with HR that we haven’t already covered?

One thing is that it’s fun! When I get onto Skype, the first thing I do is read through the HR Cafe feed so I can catch up on the jokes, hear about the important events in people’s lives, and share community with the other volunteers. The work is important, but the community is just as important!

What would you say to anyone who’s considering volunteering for HR?

Do it! It’s important work, and you can find a way to fit it into any type of work schedule you have.

Alright, unless you have anything else to add, that should be all.

Great. Thanks Joshua!

You’re welcome. 🙂

We get stuff done. Don’t just take our word for it; Siobhan writes it down!

Until next time, and our next volunteer’s story!