Ruth Maionchi has enjoyed a distinguished career as a social worker in community mental health, private practice, and with domestic violence and sexual assault organizations. She has also been a Field Instructor in the School of Social Work's Field Education program. Now that she's retired, she's filling a volunteer role with the American Red Cross that as a social worker she is uniquely qualified to fill.
Ruth's involvement began after 9/11 when the Red Cross put out a national call for social workers and other mental health professionals. Ruth and a friend went to New York together and provided mental health counseling at a service center located near ground zero. Since then, Ruth has gone to seven different disaster sites, providing mental health counseling for both the victims and volunteers.
In between disasters, Ruth maintains her volunteer commitment to the Red Cross through the local Disaster Action Team (DAT) as an on-call mental health provider. The DAT provides services to families in times of local crisis, like home fires. Ruth is on call over night one full week every eight weeks and as needed for day time residential fires. If an emergency arises, she is on the scene, working with a volunteer case manager to provide mental health support for those affected.
In addition to traveling to New York to help during 9/11, Ruth served in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, each for two weeks. Locally, she provided support at the Red Cross comfort station when the Morning Star Baptist Church burned to the ground last fall. She said each situation is different and you have to be willing to be flexible.
The Oregon Trail Chapter of the Red Cross is always looking for licensed clinical social workers as well as other mental health workers to provide volunteer mental health services as part of their DAT teams. In addition, social workers without clinical licenses can volunteer as case managers in disasters. Every volunteer is required to have a background check and to go through brief Red Cross trainings. More information is available from Bob Porter, MSW, Training Coordinator, Mental Health Services, at (503) 475-4998 or at (503) 259-3314.