This volunteer program trains corporate teams to help their community through a disaster

Topics: National, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada, Volunteer
April 17, 2020

Acklands-Grainger staff group photo at volunteer training event

When disasters strike in Canada, the Canadian Red Cross relies on the incredible volunteers who devote their time, resources and energy to helping those affected.

Disasters like floods and wildfires are on the rise each year across the country. Canadians are also experiencing the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Red Cross is finding many ways to provide support during this complex, fast-evolving situation. The need for trained volunteers is increasingly essential.  

A community-based volunteer force

The Ready When the Time Comes program works with employers in communities across Canada to recruit their staff and train them as Canadian Red Cross volunteers.

Participants use those skills to promote disaster preparedness and bolster the disaster response capacity in their own communities – they play an important role during large disaster responses as well as everyday disasters like residential fires. These volunteers are also trained to support other local Red Cross programming and campaigns.

Achieve corporate volunteering targets

This program is an opportunity to achieve employee engagement and corporate volunteering targets. It also provides unique professional development opportunities for the entire organization, from leadership to entry level employees.

A customizable program to fit each team

Every workplace is unique – that's why the program is customized to meet the needs and objectives of our participating partners.

The Canadian Red Cross supports program partners with flexible classroom and digital training options, annual reporting, volunteer recognition, and marketing support.

In addition to the disaster preparedness and response training, the Red Cross offers additional employee engagement opportunities for interested partners, from disaster simulation exercises to building responder kits. This is a great way to keep volunteers engaged and maintain skills outside of emergency responses.

Our incredible partners

Ten years ago, Acklands-Grainger partnered with the Canadian Red Cross in launching this program. As the National Founding Sponsor of Ready When the Time Comes, more than 200 employees of Acklands-Grainger have trained as disaster volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross since 2010. The company’s commitment to this program, and to the safety of communities across Canada, is unwavering.

When a company invests in its community’s wellbeing, it also conveys to its employees that their safety and security are a top priority. The committed corporate partners of this program are not only building a stronger work culture, they are contributing to the future of their communities. These partners include Manulife, Desjardins and Acklands-Grainger.

Ready When the Time Comes, putting skills to work

If a disaster strikes in a participant’s community, they’re able to apply their training while also leveraging their broader skillset to provide hands-on support.

“The Red Cross presented an opportunity for me to volunteer my skills as a semi-professional communications contact centre person,” said one volunteer during the Alberta fires of 2016. “I felt great contributing my time and knowledge to be part of the Red Cross team in helping the Alberta evacuees register online and providing the required information to evacuees.”

Volunteering during COVID-19

As the Canadian Red Cross responds to COVID-19, the need for volunteers continues. The way we do our work is changing. As we adapt, the Red Cross is monitoring where volunteers are needed most and how we can best support the people and communities impacted by this health emergency. Volunteer opportunities now include working remotely or providing virtual support to our clients to respect social distancing recommendations.

To learn more about bringing this program to your workforce, please contact: