Pennsylvania Volunteers Organizations Active In Disasters
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) serves as the coordinating office and monitor for the Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (PaVOAD). PaVOAD is an advisory committee to the Emergency Management Council, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor. PaVOAD member organizations provide assistance to the citizens of the Commonwealth when a disaster strikes. PaVOAD is not a directive organization; during a disaster, the members independently provide a variety of relief and recovery services.
PaVOAD organizations are one of the first to arrive at the scene of most disasters to provide needed services to both the first responders as well as the survivors. The goal is to bring voluntary organizations active in disaster together to foster more effective service to people affected by disaster. The key words for the principles have been cooperation, coordination, communication and collaboration. Examples of services provided are: food and water, shelter services, blankets, psychological first aid, etc. These organizations are also the last ones to leave as they are also actively involved in the long term recovery process that the affected community will be experiencing.
PEMA provides a meeting place and periodic meetings are held twice a year, or more frequently if necessary. The meeting provides a forum for participants to share experiences of their respective activities, express any concerns they may have, receive information on current items of interest that may involve their activities, and provide suggestions for any improvements. A VOAD Directory is being developed by PaVOAD, which will provide pertinent information on member organizations. This directory will be available on the PaVOAD website. (
During a disaster, PEMA provides guidance for donation of goods and services, but not the operational aspects of any agency. In the event of a major disaster, PEMA will suggest that the Governor provide a general message indicating that until specific needs are identified, not to sent goods or supplies, but to make monetary donations to their favorite charity, civic organization or government entity.
Should there be a Governors declaration of an emergency and/or disaster, PEMA will coordinate voluntary efforts with PaVOAD organizations under the direction of PEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL). The VAL will keep PaVOAD organizations informed of the events/situation reports from the State EOC, of any unmet needs in the affected county/municipality.