The Comox District Consumers Co-op is one of only eight co-ops in Canada whose employees will be encouraged to become volunteer reservists with their local Red Cross.
“Partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to help people within our communities during crisis fits well with our values of a locally invested and community-minded co-operative,” says general manager Joe Russell. “We’re excited about the opportunity to involve our employees in this initiative, and I know that our employees will step up to help their neighbours should the need arise.”
The Comox Valley co-op employs 15 people and provides goods and services to 5,000 members in the Comox Valley.
Employees volunteering for the reservist program will receive training from the Red Cross. General duties include registration of evacuees, distribution of clothing vouchers, feeding, fundraising and donations management.
They will be available for a period of up to two days per year and more if agreed to by the Co-op, employee and Red Cross.
The Red Cross worked carefully with Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) to select the eight retail co-ops participating in the volunteer reservist program in 2013.
These co-ops were selected based on the Red Cross’s assessment of where it believes there is the greatest potential for disasters to occur, and where the need for additional local volunteer support is the greatest.
This year, all partners will test the new program to ensure that everyone understands roles and responsibilities, and to make adjustments based on their feedback. The plan is to continue to enrol additional retail co-ops in the future.
As well, FCL and its 235 member-owned retail co-ops are donating $1 million over five years to help local Co-ops and the Canadian Red Cross work together to provide effective, community-based emergency response throughout Western Canada.
This is the largest single, multi-year donation in the history of the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS).
The Red Cross will receive $100,000 per year to pre-position goods across the West to respond quickly to local crises. Another $100,000 will be available annually to match local retail co-ops’ emergency donations to the Red Cross.
“For almost a century, co-ops and their employees have built a reputation of being good neighbors who are always there for individuals and communities when disasters strike,” says FCL CEO Scott Banda. “The Co-operative Retailing System is excited to be partnering with the Red Cross in taking our support during times of local emergencies to the next level.”
In 2012, the Red Cross provided assistance to 4,531 individuals during 359 emergency situations ranging from individual house fires to floods across Western Canada.
“Preparing for disasters is vitally important for residents of Western Canada,” says Sue Phillips, Canadian Red Cross director general Western Canada. “FCL and retail Co-ops have recognized the importance of preparedness through their generous gift of $1 million.
“Thanks to co-op’s foresight and initiative, communities will be better prepared for disasters, and co-op employee reservists will have the ability to support Red Cross teams during local disasters.”
— Federated Co-operatives Limited