Caring for Body, Mind and Spirit

A few months ago, the American Red Cross opened a shelter after a 99-unit apartment fire in Columbus, housing people from a variety of ethnic and faith traditions. Shelter volunteers met were able to meet their needs for food and shelter. Emily Aloto, Recovery Manager, was also able to send a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteer to see how they were doing.

Soon, she’ll also be able to ask a Disaster Spiritual Care volunteer to shelters as well. As part of the recovery process, the Red Cross puts an emphasis on providing disaster spiritual care along with the range of disaster services volunteers already provide. A new Disaster Spiritual Care team is forming in Ohio.

One of the things that will make it fun for her is that the Disaster Spiritual Care team is starting with a blank slate. Michele Miller, the new lead for the team, accepted that role only a couple of months ago. Michele is a fire chaplain who is already used to dealing with crisis situations.

“Our big focus,” said Emily, “Is on getting someone who can work in an interfaith role.”

These Red Cross volunteers will focus on drawing out and supporting disaster survivors’ own spiritual resources. They’ll be comfortable working with people from a mosaic of religious traditions, or no tradition. They will be licensed or endorsed by a faith entity. They may even be leaders in their own traditions, but able to step beyond those borders to guide others through the spiritual ramifications of a disaster.

The process of becoming a Disaster Spiritual Care volunteer will begin with a conversation to assess the volunteer’s willingness to take on this interfaith role. They will also participate in all of the training other members of the Disaster Services Team take. In addition, they will take one online and one in-person course in spiritual care.

Disaster Spiritual Care is yet another way the Red Cross cares for the whole person: body, mind and spirit. If you want to accept Emily’s invitation to “come have a conversation with us” about becoming a Red Cross spiritual care volunteer, visit


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