It was the worst disaster in American history, yet Hurricane Katrina brought out the best in people. Thousands of volunteers gave of themselves and their time to come to the aid of their neighbors, people they didn’t even know.

While there are no storms in the Gulf or disasters right now, the state is strengthening its volunteer workforce to respond to disasters. The preparation for a crisis continues Wednesday at the Louisiana Volunteer Summit in Carville, Louisiana.

The Center for Community Preparedness, a division of the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health, and more than 40 volunteer organizations will discuss issues surrounding volunteer management and unified volunteer coordination during an emergency. The goal of the summit is to build relationships between these agencies and organizations to help sustain the state in times of triumph and disaster.

According to Doris Brown, director of the Center for Community Preparedness, Louisiana could not have gotten through the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes without the dedication and selfless service of volunteers.  Following the 2005 hurricanes, more than 8,500 volunteers assisted Louisiana and its storm victims.

“It was those extra hands that helped to sustain us while our citizens were displaced and Louisiana was responding to the costliest and most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history,” said Brown. “Today, our goal is to better organize and train our volunteers in order to hasten our emergency response.”

Southern University School of Nursing Assistant Professor and Registered Nurse Anita Hansberry gave countless hours of her personal time providing medical attention to evacuees. At the volunteer summit Hansberry will speak about her experience as a volunteer: “When you are blessed you have a sense of responsibility to pass that blessing onto someone else.”

What:    Louisiana Volunteer Summit
When:   July 25, 2007
              9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where:  Gillis W. Long Center
              5445 Point Clair Rd.
              Carville, La.
For more information on the Louisiana Volunteer Summit, contact Mardrah Starks, program manager for Office of Public Health – Center for Community Preparedness, at (225) 763-3965.