Bill Hanchett of Latham, NY and Chris Hoffman of Loudonville, NY - both retired, volunteer at the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York in the Emergency Services Department doing client casework; they help those who have been hit by disasters like floods or fires get back on their feet.
After a disaster strikes, families are typically provided Red Cross disaster relief via temporary lodging and provided financial assistance for necessary items like food, clothing, shoes and storage containers. Red Cross volunteers trained in client casework will then continue to help the families with the recovery process, if necessary by referring them to food banks, social service agencies, and any other charities that would be able to help provide additional food, clothing, lodging or other needed relief.
Before becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross more than eight years ago, Hanchett volunteered in Latham as an EMT and paramedic for 15 years. He had always been a part of service organizations and came to the Red Cross to continue helping people at an organization with a good reputation.
“Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience,” said Hanchett. “The thanks you get from those you help through troubled times and the camaraderie with other volunteers are some of the best things about volunteering. I’m always encouraging others to give it a try.” He is also a regular blood donor.
In addition to client casework, Hoffman volunteers with blood services delivering blood to hospitals and trauma centers for transfusions during operations and in emergency situations. Hoffman, who has been a Red Cross volunteer for about a year, recently received an award for bringing a truck of blood to a VA Hospital during a blizzard.
“It was a big snow storm and the roads were dangerous,” said Hoffman. “I volunteered to drive a blood truck from Albany to a VA Hospital in Putnam County.” When he arrived at the hospital, the hospital administrator was very thankful because they were nearing a shortage.
For Hoffman, the best thing about volunteering is knowing he is making a difference by helping people in the community. “Volunteering keeps you connected,” said Hoffman. “The satisfaction that you’re helping others and making a difference at a low point in their lives is a great feeling. It feels like I’m using my free time better and it gives me a chance to meet people while learning new things.”