Ann Foote, Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross, Atlanta, GA
“Red Cross volunteerism means life to me,” proclaims Ann Foote. She means that when she saw people suffering she had to help, and that selfless activity actually reversed her own body going into sick mode.
Prior to volunteering, Foote had been retired from 33 years of banking, but left without an active work schedule, her mental and physical readiness were on the decline. According to Foote, “Once I started to volunteer at the Red Cross chapter, [helping others] kept me busy.” And she, like many other volunteers have discovered, experienced the side-benefit that helping others makes one’s own health improve.
Foote first began to volunteer at the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross because of the mass victim suffering she saw as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Foote noticed that this Red Cross chapter (among many others) was “overwhelmingly impacted” by the disaster, and received negative media coverage. She said,” I needed to do something,” so she volunteered to help.
Foote is now the Staff Service Lead for that Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter, as well as a Client Casework Supervisor at the same chapter. She gets a workforce mobilized during a national and local disaster.
Foote ensures that the volunteers are equipped with the necessary tools to do their tasks at a disaster site. And, she also supervises outreach teams on disaster, and verifies the needs of the client, so that Red Cross can supply these necessities by referring them to community resources for further assistance.
Her most memorable experience occurred when she helped a client during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife were trapped under a bridge for three days without food or water. His wife was disabled, and could not walk, and he refused to leave her.
His wife cried in despair and hunger during those trying days, but he was strong for her and kept alive hopes for a rescue. When Foote heard his story she reminded him that he had lived through that terrible time too, and it wasn’t good for him to keep his feelings “bottled up inside” about this horrible occurrence. He broke down, and cried and cried on Foote’s shoulder. She comforted him, until other helpers arrived.
Foote remarked that she gets her motivation to volunteer from a scripture. The scripture (Matthew 25:35) says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me ….”
She stated that she treats people the way she would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. With sincerity and earnestness, Foote thanked the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross “for affording me the opportunity to volunteer for such a great humanitarian organization.”