Chris Thompson leads a discussion at the volunteer retreat

Humanity Road 2016 Retreat Recap

I have been volunteering with Humanity Road (HR) since February 2016. When I learned that this retreat was occurring, I was very excited. I saw this retreat as a way to learn more about Humanity Road and Disaster Response. Reflecting on this retreat, I gained so much more.

Thursday October 13

We started the retreat with a meeting on operations and goals for 2017. We also came together for this great group shot. I was super excited about our HR Polo shirts in this photo!

Volunteers surround Chris Thompson on the deck at the recent volunteer retreat.
A view of the lake from the porch of the house

For the rest of the day, we had time to enjoy the outdoors by the lake and get to know each other better. The view was so beautiful, you could see steam rise from the lake in the morning! Having meals together was a highlight too, felt like one big family.

Friday October 14

We went to DC where we were able to tour FEMA and the Capitol. It was a beautiful Fall day in DC, very comfortable in the sunshine.

Our time at FEMA first started with us sitting in on a daily briefing. It was enlightening to see what they discuss from day to day. After the briefing we took a mini tour inside the NRCC. It was awesome to see under the umbrella of FEMA, there a lot of divisions and groups that work together.

Once the tour concluded, we sat down with several FEMA representatives and had an engaging discussion on the role of social media in disaster response. Here’s an article about the tour and the work FEMA and Humanity Road have done together.

Volunteers pose in front of FEMA's National Response Coordination Center in Wasshington, DC
The dome of the Capitol building in Washington, DC

We then took a tour of the Capitol. We had some free time in DC, so some of us went to the Library of Congress. They had cool exhibits on the best books by American authors and a section on the history of Civil Rights in the USA.

Saturday October 15

Our last full day together included multiple sessions. We had an inside look and demonstration of Scanigo , a software we use during activations.

Two of our volunteers gave a presentation on HAM Radio (amateur radio) which can be considered as the “Foundation of Social Media”. With HAM Radio, you can communicate within various distances. We learned about a lot of resources/websites that involve using radio and how we can become HAM Radio technicians ourselves. Damon giving an overview of HAM Radio

Damon Talbot provides a presentation on Hand Held radio's,
Lloyd showing us a website that uses HAM Radio as a resource.

Lloyd showing us a website that uses HAM Radio as a resource.

We also saw this great volunteer appreciation video (below) that one of the volunteers put together reflecting on HR’s service in 2015. It was so moving to see all the impactful work done within a year.

The highlight of the day was the recognition of some of our volunteers. Over the years, volunteers have put so many hours of service into HR. It was really wonderful and inspiring to see!

We ended the night with a barbecue. Some of us gathered around a bonfire where we made s’mores and were greeted by the moon.

The moon rises on Lake Anna

Reflection

We all have different backgrounds and interests. It was really cool to see how we all fit together in what we do at Humanity Road. This retreat was a great way to step away from our everyday routines and get to know each other on a more personal level.

Thank you to Damon Talbot for his great photos!