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PENNSYLVANIA Voluntary 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 often some 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. PaVOAD's goal is to provide a forum for voluntary organizations active in disaster to network, share best practices, and combine efforts to foster more effective service to people affected by disasters. PaVOAD operates under the National VOAD core principles of cooperation, coordination, communication and collaboration. Examples of services provided are: food and water, shelter services, emergency supplies, psychological first aid, immediate debris clearance, vital home repairs or cleanout, and replacement of vital goods. Volunteer and nonprofit organizations are also vital in the planning, execution, and supervision of a community's long term recovery process.

PEMA provides coordination, conferencing, and  information technology resources to PaVOAD, with statewide VOAD meetings occurring semi-annually, and a variety of regional and county meetings, outreach events, training, and exercises occurring more frequently . The statewide VOAD meeting provides a forum for member organizations to network, share best practices, develop plans for future operations, and coordinate efforts with PEMA initiatives. Additional information, including how interested organizations may contact and join PaVOAD, is available on the PaVOAD website. ( )

During a disaster, PEMA will provide guidance for donation of goods and services through public releases and coordination with county and local media outlets. PEMA may coordinate with volunteer organizations in the vicinity of a disaster to support state and county response efforts, but will not impose requirements on or direct volunteer organizations. In the event of a major disaster,  the Governor's Press Office will often provide messaging indicating specific needs for donations, or in the absence of specific information on unmet needs that it is not advisable to sent goods or supplies, but to make monetary donations to a charity, civic organization, or volunteer organization of the donor's choice.

Should the Governor declare a State of 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 and help them to coordinate response efforts with government affiliated responders.

A list of members of PaVOAD, their areas of operations, and functional areas (Current as of Jan 1, 2015) can be found Here