POSTED: 05/10/13, 12:00 AM EDT
By CAROL HOPKINS
Greg Martin of Clarkston watched media reports of the Alabama tornadoes in late April 2011.
“I decided to go as a first responder,” said Martin, 33, a former church youth director.
“The experience changed my life.”
Martin quit his job and in May 2012 founded DRAW (Disaster Relief At Work, Inc.) on a singular premise that a natural disaster is the only time in the human experience when a person or family can instantaneously go from everyday life to rock bottom.
This month, the grassroots nonprofit organization is marking its first anniversary after having provided first-response disaster relief services to hundreds of people across the U.S.
Headquartered in Waterford, DRAW is a non-profit, 501(c)3 dedicated to providing relief services to communities that have been hit by natural disasters. DRAW aids survivors by filling and donating five-gallon buckets filled with supplies including toiletries, patching and repair items, cleaning products and more. Interested donors can purchase a specific type of bucket from DRAW’s “Bucket List,” make a general monetary donation, or physically help fill buckets.
With a small army of volunteers, DRAW made nine emergency-aid trips in its first year.
The group provided crisis relief after Hurricane Isaac, Hurricane Sandy (two trips), a tornado in Henryville, Ind., a tornado in Hattiesburg, Miss. (two trips), floods in Duluth, Minn. and Grand Rapids, and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
“We’re an organization that shows up with whatever survivors need as soon as they need it,” said Greg Martin, DRAW’s executive director.
“Our first response teams not only bring household and personal supplies to meet immediate needs, they work alongside members of that devastated community to sift through the remains of homes to salvage valuables, remove fallen trees or just sit and listen to survivors grieve.”
DRAW’s inaugural year can be measured by the following statistics, said Martin:
- 16,139 total miles traveled by first response teams
- 1,164 volunteers helping to fill buckets, directly or indirectly
- 2,440 buckets distributed to disaster survivors
- 219 families directly helped in the aftermath (home and property repairs, clean-up, salvage valuables, etc.)
DRAW will celebrate its first anniversary on its actual founding date, Wednesday, May 22, by holding a fundraising “webathon” at www.drawbuckets.org.
Martin makes appeals for volunteers at area schools. Many volunteers are college students who can spare the time to travel, he said.
An ongoing tally of funds raised through the course of the day will be posted on DRAW’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drawbuckets.
“Natural disasters have no mercy, any person in any place at any time could be the next tragedy survivor and DRAW wants to be there to help,” said Martin.