Critical Volunteer Personnel
If you have gotten this far without alienating your family, friends, business associates, and law enforcement you should be commended for your superior leadership abilities. Now it is time to begin delegating critical personnel assignments:
Volunteer Coordinator/Security Director
If you anticipate broad based community support and live in an urban or suburban location someone will have to be responsible to assign, schedule and track volunteer duties.
- Equipped with an assignment tree and located near the entrance to the volunteer center the Volunteer Coordinator can also double as security director.
- It is important to secure completed volunteer applications, fingerprints, attached Polaroid or digital photographs and run Megan’s Law background checks on all volunteer applicants.
- Volunteers should sign whenever they begin or end their duties.
In extreme situations volunteers trained to accept phone tips and leads will be utilized to relieve law enforcement of this important responsibility. Because of the critical nature of hotline sightings this activity should never be undertaken unless under strict law enforcement control utilizing law enforcement authorized incident report forms. All information must be turned over to law enforcement daily.
- Have caller ID and relevant voice mails installed in the phone system.
- Although this is an exciting and important volunteer assignment it is also difficult and stressful, therefore shifts should be limited to no more than three hours each.
- Citizens reporting critical incidents are likely to provide inaccurate information. During direct questioning verify all information for accuracy. Repeating information back to the reporting party informs the Hotline Coordinator of the nature of your call.
- Repeat addresses and telephone numbers. Confirm locations and obtain descriptions.
Missing child flyers have to be created, duplicated, maintained, circulated and tracked. Suggest that local law enforcement create and distribute missing child flyers by utilizing Beyond Missing (link). Beginning in June 2002, Beyond Missing flyers can be updated, edited and distributed on the Internet by law enforcement. They can also be downloaded from a public Internet database for duplication.
In October and November 1993 flyers for kidnap victim Polly Klaas were mysteriously and routinely removed near Ukiah, California. In early December 1993, Richard Allen Davis was arrested on an Indian Reservation adjoining Ukiah for kidnapping, raping and murdering twelve-year-old Polly.
- Every responsible missing child volunteer organization should take advantage of the Internet, which in recent years has slashed the cost of duplicating and distributing missing child flyers.
- Missing child flyers are easily downloaded from a variety of Child Locator NPO Websites.
- A current flyer should be available on the missing child’s Website.
- Hang flyers at: post offices, local convenience stores; fast food restaurants; gas stations; truck stops; hospitals; low rent motels; teen centers; homeless centers; in the neighborhoods of registered sex offenders and anywhere the child is known to frequent.
- Make flyers available at the volunteer center and encourage drop-ins to leave with a limited supply and make their own duplications.
- Check with law enforcement for locations where multiple sightings have been recorded and make sure that those areas are blanketed with flyers as well.
- Most urban and suburban communities have a Kinko’s, Staples, Office Depot or other business service enterprise that can mass-produce flyers at little or no cost. Track your distribution on maps to ensure that you don’t over or under saturate important locations.
- Make sure that media is supplied whenever flyers are updated.
- Encourage long distance truckers to distribute along their routes.
- Although company policy may prohibit the practice, individual UPS, Fed Ex and other delivery drivers will assist when they can as well.
- Talk to the Postmaster about supplying letter carriers with at least one poster for each route. Postal workers visit virtually every residence in every community every day.
- Maintain and nurture your contact lists, because if your assignment is the steady flow of photo image flyers you will need plenty of friends willing to lend a hand.
The Internet’s powerful suite of communication tools is among the most powerful weapons in the anti-kidnap arsenal. You cannot overestimate the importance of free, universal access via the World Wide Web or the text and graphic rich lightening speed of email.
- Every kidnapped child deserves a dedicated website where flyers, pictures and other personal and case information, including relevant phone numbers can be posted.
- The website can be as primitive or sophisticated as you are able to develop.
- You should also post links to law enforcement websites, Child Locator NPO’s and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (link).
- MSN (http://homepages.msn.com/) and Geocities (http://geocities.yahoo.com/v/info.html) make WebPages available for free by providing at least 15 megabytes of disk space; page wizards and page builders with layout templates that require no HTML coding; site statistics; easy to remember web page addresses; easy to install add-ons and a file manager that lets you create, edit and maintain your content.
- Free Email addresses are also available.
This is the twenty-first century and the computer center is the brains of your operation. A volunteer center established in crisis gives new meaning to multi-tasking so secure a number of high-speed computers and centrally locate them in the volunteer center. Important and critical data must be regularly formatted, organized, categorized, cataloged, communicated, referenced, coordinated through and recorded in your computer databanks. You will need a variety of software and more than one computer to fulfill all of these tasks. You will also need browser capability, email accounts and a rudimentary network.
- At least one computer will require word processing and faxing software so that the media advisor can write press releases, fax them to pre-populated but customizable media fax numbers and store them in a folder or folders.
- You will need database software so that you can build and maintain a variety of databases as required.
- Mapping software can assist with a variety of functions including search planning and flyer distribution and tracking.
- Graphic programs will enable computer volunteers and the Webmaster to work with images and graphics.
- Spreadsheet software may be needed for a variety of jobs as well.
- Many of these programs can be found in pre-packaged business suites that allow the operator to share information between the various applications.
- Browser access allows the Webmaster to post information on the Internet.
- Internet access enables you to take advantage of Web based programs like Yahoo Messenger and AOL Messenger, invaluable services for whenever you need to instantly communicate between distant locations and either do not want to use the phone or cannot afford to use a telephone.
- Browsers let you access Email which allows you to instantly communicate high resolution graphic and text information between remote locations at no cost and with much more efficiency than is possible through any other medium.
- Separate Email accounts for each browser capable computer within your center allows you to establish a primitive network that shares files between workstations with compatible software applications.
If they are working for you, they must be fed. If the center remains open more than eight hours per day they must be fed more than once.
- Volunteers are much more likely to remain loyal and return if they receive hot coffee and pastry in the morning, sandwiches, tacos and soft drinks for lunch and a hot meal in the evening.
- Never allow alcohol into the volunteer center.
- Approach restaurants, hotels, caterers, supermarkets and food wholesalers for supplies. Convince them to extend a discount if they will not donate outright.
- If you have a kitchen you will be able to prepare hot food in the evening or cold weather. Otherwise you will need a microwave oven, have pizza delivered or outsource.
- Follow sound sanitation procedures for good health. Try to put food away when mealtime is over.
- Store perishable goods in a refrigerator, non-perishable in a clean cupboard.
- To prevent sickness, vermin must be controlled.
- Dispose of perishable food by the expiration date.
- Always clean-up.
Money is critical to maintaining any business, so you will have to establish an effective fund raising mechanism.
Any funds raised via direct contributions or through the sale of goods are subject to federal, state and local taxation unless you conduct business as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Since you represent a temporary volunteer effort in response to an emergency look for a local non-profit organization that will allow you to operate under their umbrella. Depending on where you are, you should get legal counsel prior to making this decision. If you follow this path enter into written agreement with the umbrella non-profit agency that any and all money raised on behalf of a missing child is to be used for the express purpose of aiding in the recovery of the child. You should also insist on separate bank accounts so that funds are not inadvertently commingled. An awful lot of misunderstanding can be avoided if you follow these simple steps.
- Some events like boxing matches are inappropriate funding events for missing children.
- Create and maintain contacts with religious organizations, civic organizations and the business community.
- By working with the Media Coordinator you can guarantee that the public will be notified via press advisories whenever an event is pending.
- Make a suggestion box available and take action on good suggestions.
- Write a standard operating procedure for each function.
- Maintain meticulous books and make frequent bank deposits so that you don’t leave cash lying around.
- Pancake breakfasts or spaghetti feeds are good initial fund raising events. Remember to issue press releases well in advance and organize kitchen staff, preparation staff and clean-up staff. Collect money at the door.
- Set up jars at point of sale locations at local retail businesses. This allows children to participate, raises awareness and circulates the missing child’s photograph.
- Contact local businesses for auction items or see if they will participate in a shop for the missing child day and donate a portion of their daily profits to the cause.
- Contact local service business operators to assist with a Hair (Nail, Walk)-A-Thon designed to raise money for the cause.
- Organize school dances and ice-cream socials for children.
- Manufacture and sell buttons and tee shirts. Purchase these items at discount and make them available at the volunteer center.
- Try to arrange local celebrity concerts in conjunction with fund raising dinners or picnics.
- Motorcycle runs and classic car rallies offer great visual content as well as raise money.
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