Volunteer guidelines

The following are guidelines or suggestions to help you have a safe and meaningful experience working with the people who have been impacted by disaster.

Please prayerfully consider these guidelines as you plan your trip.

God Bless!!

Each group that forms to respond to a disaster should appoint ONE person to be their Coordinator for that trip. It will be the responsibility of this Team Coordinator to insure that every person volunteering for the trip has read all of the guidelines and has completed and signed all necessary forms. The Coordinator should insure that the proper skilled to unskilled ratios are met. The Coordinator is the only person who should contact the disaster area Coordinator to set up the trip. This should be done AT LEAST 10 days prior to your trip. These two Coordinators will verify the dates of the trip, what help is needed and that the skills of your group will be useful at that time. They will also set up housing arrangements, if needed, what personal supplies and what work tools should be brought to the site. Arrangements should also be made for the Team Coordinator to receive any disaster site liability waivers or forms that need to be signed (especially by parents or guardians of youth) prior to your leaving for the trip to the disaster site.

  • AGE and SKILL LIMITS:  Recommended age limit is 18 years or older.  Age 15 is the youngest allowed on a job site, and they must be accompanied by their parents or youth group chaperones at all times.  These ages may change from Disaster to Disaster, so please check with the Arch Indy Disaster Coordinator for specific age limits.
  • Suggested ratio of skilled volunteers to unskilled volunteers is 1:4 with each group including as many skilled volunteers as possible.

This guideline is intended to ensure that proper adult/skilled persons are available to oversee the work being done.  Everyone should be mindful that we are helping the residents rebuild their lives and their homes.  Therefore, we should make every attempt to do a quality job and this begins with proper supervision of unskilled volunteers.

  • VIRTUS TRAINING:  Every group with youth under 18 years of age must complete a Waiver for the Bishop of Indianapolis, certifying that all chaperones are VIRTUS trained and background checked. A copy should be kept on file at your local Parish.
  • If you are staying overnight, each youth sleeping area must have at least two VIRTUS trained adult chaperones of the same sex or none at all in that area. VIRTUS is a safe environment training program available through the Catholic Church.  Please contact your parish office for training information. 
  • Chaperones of non-Catholic youth groups must have a background check at minimum, and are encouraged to complete a safe training program through their own congregation if it is available.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

  • REGISTRATION:  All groups should register with the disaster site Coordinator at least 10 days in advance of your trip through this web site.  Your Team Coordinator should be in phone or e-mail contact with the Disaster Relief Coordinator at the disaster site and complete paperwork for the entire group before leaving.  Volunteers who have not provided a 10-day advance notice will be accommodated only as long as proper work, local supervision and housing space is available.  Work coordination services may not be available for walk-ins due to time constraints of the disaster site personnel.

The purpose of this guideline is to provide the coordinators in the disaster area adequate information and time to arrange the proper work for the skill levels of your group, thus assuring the most rewarding outcomes possible for both the volunteers and the residents.   Unscheduled arrivals may result in the lack of appropriate housing or adequate work, so please plan ahead

  • LIABILITY WAIVERS MUST be completed by all volunteers before work begins. This document is required by us as well as your home parish or organization.  Please DOWNLOAD it from the web site and bring it with you! This waiver will need to be on file with the local Disaster Response Team Coordinator. There will probably also be a waiver associated with the disaster community where you will work. Your Team Coordinator will need to ask the disaster site Coordinator prior to your trip, especially if your group includes youth, as these waivers will need to be signed by their parent or guardian.

  • WORK TIME:  Except for the immediate needs following the disaster, most disaster areas in the long term recovery stage DO NOT work on Sunday.  Please contact the Coordinator in the disaster area if your plans do include a Sunday.

  • HOUSING:  There may be limited housing available.  At least 10-day advance registration is recommended.  You will need to bring air mattresses and your own bedding.  Your Team Coordinator will contact the Disaster Coordinator at the disaster site for housing information.
  • FEES and OTHER EXPENSES: Volunteers should be prepared to pay for their own meals and travel arrangements as well as possible housing fees.  Volunteers may be expected to pay, in advance of the trip, a per person per night fee for housing. The fee helps to cover the costs to maintain the housing facility (utilities, heat, paper products, etc.). Again, this information will be gathered by the Team Coordinator.
  • Volunteer meals are usually not provided. If you are staying overnight, you may either bring your food or purchase it at local groceries. Day only trips will need to bring their own lunches or make arrangements in the disaster areas. Please also plan for any meals while traveling.
  • CLEAN UP OF THE VOLUNTEER HOUSING:  The housing, sleeping quarters for volunteers is maintained strictly by the volunteers.  Please set aside time each day and before you leave to help clean up the house.  Please leave it in least as good, if not better, condition as when you came.

Cost of building materials will usually be financed through donors or homeowners. However, donations are always welcome. If you have raised funds to be used at the disaster site, the best use of these funds should be discussed with the Disaster Coordinator prior to the trip to help prevent duplication of material purchases.

  • Tools & EQUIPMENT:  Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own basic tools for the work projects they are assigned to.  Some tools and equipment may be provided.  Please mark your tools so they do not get confused with other tools at the site.   If you have tools to donate, please tell the Coordinator before you leave so that they can be inventoried.

  • WORK ASSIGNMENTS & MATERIALS:  The disaster site Coordinator will help coordinate your daily work schedule and assign your team to specific work sites appropriate to the skill levels of your group. If, however, you are assigned a task that "feels" beyond your capabilities, please let the site Coordinator know right away. We certainly do not want to put anyone in harm's way, and we do want to complete each task to the best of our abilities.

The disaster site Coordinator needs to know your skills and abilities in order to best match you to a proper job.  At least 7 days are needed prior to your arrival to coordinate with a homeowner, to get permits and secure materials.  Since many homeowners are not able to haul materials to their homes, one of your tasks may be to pick up materials and take them to the home or work site if your vehicle is capable.   You may also be asked to take the homeowner with you to the lumber store to have them pay for the materials.

  • SAFETY:  Be sure to head all safety information provided.  There are many hazards in the area such as black mold, asbestoses, broken glass, sharp jagged metal, nails etc.   All debris items have likely been contaminated with bacteria from the disaster. Flood waters are never clean waters; sewage, household chemicals and chemicals from surrounding farm lands have entered the flood waters. Tornadoes and Hurricanes may bring many bacteria on their winds.
  • There may also be wildlife that has taken refuge inside or under homes and buildings, in tall grass and brush or debris piles. Never put an un-gloved hand into such areas! Use a long, sturdy stick or pole, such as a rake, shovel or broom handle, to poke at such areas prior to working in or near them.
  • Always wear appropriate safety apparel. Sturdy shoes, heavy gloves, face masks (rated N95 or higher), Tyvek suits (these are the white, zip up, hooded and footed suits with elastic at writs), and eye goggles should all be used as the situation dictates.
  • Contact lens wearers need to be especially careful when working in conditions of mold. Always wear eye protection if you wear contacts. Stop work to wash your hands carefully, remove and wash or replace contacts often.
  • All Volunteers need to be sure that their shots are up to date, especially Tetanus shots!

  • LOG VOLUNTEER HOURS:  Please be sure to fill out the Volunteer Hours Log Sheets BEFORE leaving at the end of your stay. These sheets need to be given to the disaster site Coordinator. Your Team Coordinator will also want to know your total hours worked. Please make notes that you feel important on these logs to help assure that the next volunteers can pick up where you left off.


This is an EXAMPLE of what you might do and what your work order will look like:

Work Order

Disaster Coordinator Phone:  317-642-7322

Homeowner:__Sam & Rita Jones_______________________

Address:__459 Crabtree PL____________________________

Phone: __317-123-4567__________Cell:____317-321-7654___

Special Instructions:___

Homeowner is living upstairs while this work is being done.  Rita will be at home, just knock on the upstairs door. Please note that Rita is in poor health and may not be available to you at all times.

Work requested to be done:

Entire main level of home:  Install insulation, hang dry wall, mud as time permits.


Directions from St. Martins’ Church:

At Stop sign go left  then bear right up the hill past hospital.

At Stop light go left – drive 6 miles

Take right onto Old St. Rd. 37 – drive 1.5 miles

Take left onto Crabtree Place – 3rd house on the right – white with black shutters.


NOTES on work done:



Group Name:__________________________________________________

This Group Leader’s Name:______________________________________

This Group Leader’s Phone: _____________________________________







Local site Links: