Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christina Spoons


The intention of this qualitative case study was to understand the disaster survivors’ experiences with disaster volunteers. Understanding the experiences of the survivors with the volunteers may determine how disaster volunteer training could be improved to inform how overall assistance is provided to disaster survivors. The community affected by the disaster can be overwhelmed by the impact of the disaster on their homes and possessions. This stress can be alleviated by the offerings of volunteers. However, volunteers may also pose a challenge as they may lack the appropriate training, may not understand the culture or community norms, and thus may not comprehend the magnitude of the community’s needs. This case study used direct interviews with 14 Hurricane Harvey disaster survivors in the Coastal Bend Region of Texas and explored how disaster survivors described their experiences with the disaster volunteers. The use of the 5 constructs of Campinha-Bacote’s model of cultural competence provided the foundation for the interview questions. During the interviews with the disaster survivors they shared their experiences with the disaster volunteers, their impression of their community culture pre- and post-storm, and their recommendations for future training for disaster volunteers. Recommendations for future training included: skills assessment, communicating with disaster survivors, acclimating to the climate, and allowing disaster survivors to lead their recovery efforts. The social change implications of this research include providing insight into disaster volunteer training and volunteer coordination to improve the services provided to disaster volunteers.