Volunteer information can aid Waco emergency funding

The federal government’s designation of COVID-19 as a disaster has made Waco-McLennan County eligible for financial assistance. One aspect of available assistance is tied to volunteer work done in response to the disaster.

Agencies, organizations, and groups that have used volunteers to respond to COVID-19 are asked to share with the Emergency Operations Center any logs of such work they may possess.

The EOC’s Sandy Pechacek told Prosper Waco she does not want such data collection to be a burden to groups responding to the crisis, but if organizations have this information on hand to please share it with the EOC. The email address is WacoMCDonations@gmail.com, and the phone number is 254-337-0822.

“If you already calculate your volunteer hours, please send me a copy,” Pechacek said. It is important that there be a description of the work done, the volunteers’ names, and hours worked (start and end time preferred).

Not all volunteer work is eligible for these federal “offset” funds, but the EOC can help determine which types of work qualify. The making of face masks for the medical crisis is an example of one type of volunteer work that is eligible.

Individuals do not need to report their volunteer work, she said. The EOC will depend on organizations to compile the data.

The funds tied to this are called “offsets” in official documents. For those who would like more information on the type of volunteer work that is eligible, here is some information from FEMA about eligibility:

Individuals and organizations often donate resources (equipment, supplies, materials, or labor) to assist with response activities. FEMA does not provide … funding for donated resources; however, the Applicant may use the value of donated resources to offset the non-Federal share of its eligible Emergency Work projects. …

The Applicant [Waco-McLennan County, in our case] may apply the offset if all of the following conditions are met:

— The donated resource is from a third party (a private entity or individual that is not a paid employee of the Applicant or . . . government);

— The Applicant uses the resource in the performance of eligible Emergency Work; and The Applicant or volunteer organization tracks the resources and work performed, including description, specific locations, and hours.

FEMA considers unpaid individuals who volunteer their labor to an Applicant to be third party even if they are officially members or employees of the Applicant organization (e.g. volunteer fire fighters at a PNP volunteer fire department). …

Volunteer Labor: The offset for volunteer labor is based on the same straight-time hourly labor rate, and fringe benefits, as a similarly qualified person in the Applicant’s organization who normally performs similar work. FEMA does not offset volunteer labor based on overtime or premium rates. …

Organizations and groups are encouraged to contact Pechacek at WacoMCDonations@gmail.com or call the EOC at 254-337-0822.