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Starting a Chapter

Starting a Chapter

Our volunteers are passionate about changing lives in their communities, so we encourage people to begin to develop chapters in their local area, wherever that may be. We’ve designed our chapters to be easy to start up and to run extremely lean. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering starting a chapter.

BUILD YOUR TEAM: Rather than flood disaster scenes with dozens of volunteers, we prefer to build small, “tactical” teams that can get in and out of areas easily. Typically, this is 4-8 volunteers. As more people get involved, the number of teams expand. The easiest way to build teams is to communicate with those in your sphere of influence. Let them know why you want to get involved and recruit their help. Having trusted friends onboard will be essential while on scene as well as helping you build your network.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK: Our primary goal is follow-up. This is where so many other organizations fail. The only way to ensure follow-up, though, is participation from the local community. Most people start by talking to their local churches, businesses and other organizations. The more you have onboard the better. You need to get them to agree to spread the word as needs arise. Designating a liaison between you and them is critical, as it will ensure communication is distributed correctly. When needs are determined by the team on-scene, they will be communicated to the liaisons, who in turn will disseminate them to their network. The goal is for individuals, congregation members, business owners and employees to volunteer to meet these needs. Some might be as simple as giving a ride to work or school for someone who lost their car. Others may be housing a pet, offering temporary work, babysitting while parents meet with adjusters, counseling, etc. The broader the network, the more needs can be met.

BUILD YOUR CONVOY: While we may occasionally help with mass feeding, clothing and water distribution, we prefer to leave that to organizations who make it their primary mission. Our goal is to meet needs that aren’t being met by other groups. We do that by talking to people and building relationships. Convoys are made up of two things – volunteers and supplies. A typical convoy has a vehicle towing an enclosed trailer, a couple ATV’s or UTV’s (for drop offs and supply delivery), and supplies that are often overlooked by other organizations As an OIA chapter, you will be able to secure tax-deductible donations of the following items from local businesses: cell phones, chargers, hygiene products, storage containers, diapers, stuffed animals, pet supplies, work gloves, etc. You would store these items in your trailer and organize them for quick deployment. (A quick note: teams have also done this out of the back of trucks and vans before, so don’t think that you have to have all this worked out ahead of time. It can grow as your chapter does.) As your volunteers make initial contact with disaster survivors, they assess the situation and ask pre-determined questions, which are logged via mobile device app into a database for communication with the local networks. If they determine there are needs they can meet immediately, they radio back to the trailer to have someone deliver necessary supplies. The information gathered by teams is then analyzed by a volunteer and communicated to liaisons for dissemination among their network. As people volunteer to meet these needs, your team will put them in touch with the survivor. This ensures that long-term relationships can be fostered between the survivors and the local community, ensuring recovery long after your team moves on.

If this sounds like a mission you want to embark on, reach out to us at We’d love to answer any questions you may have, as well as provide some additional information that will assist you in setting up a chapter.

There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing that you were able to bring hope and peace to someone on the hardest day of their life. We hope you’ll choose to help fulfill this vital mission.

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