March is Red Cross Month, and the American Red Cross is recognizing the country’s everyday heroes who reach out to help their neighbors in need, whether near or far.
Take Red Cross volunteers, husband and wife Glen and Julie Bradley of Lakeside, AZ.
Glen, a retired electrical engineer, and, Julie, a retired Army major, spent the first years of their retirement sailing around the world. But after seeing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they decided to come ashore and give their time to the Red Cross.
In the years to follow, the couple gained valuable new skills responding domestically to floods, tornadoes, fires and hurricanes as volunteers for the Grand Canyon Chapter in Phoenix. Later, they served the Red Cross during tragedies in Haiti, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
This traning, along with their specialized skills in setting up communications systems, made the Bradleys perfect candidates to serve on a select team of Red Cross volunteers who are called on first to assist on international deployments.
“We have had fortunate lives, and we have skills that we wanted to share by giving back to the community,’’ Julie said.
Last November, while in Paris, Glen got a call that Typhoon Haiyan had struck the Philippines, leaving more than 6,000 dead and 4 million without food, water, sanitation or any means of communication. Julie stood by Glen as he packed quickly and headed for the airport, not knowing what he would face or how long he would be gone.
Once on the ground, Glen, and another Red Cross volunteer, had scant time to take in the destruction before them. They went to work quickly, teaming up with Danish Red Cross volunteers to restore the communications services that would be needed for rescues and recoveries in the days ahead.
“There was no radio, no telephone, no Internet and no cell phones,’’ Glen said. “There was debris from trees and buildings everywhere.’’
Even with these challenges, the volunteers were able to set up a satellite communications system to provide Internet, e-mail and telephone, making it possible to get out critical calls for help.
Being a member of the international response team sometimes means acting before a disaster takes place. In December, Glen and Julie spent time in Nepal setting up a Disaster Radio Network and training the Nepalese Red Cross on its use.
Nepal is considered high-risk for a major earthquake, and setting up an emergency communication system now could curtail loss and suffering should catastrophe strike.
Become a Red Cross Volunteer
The Red Cross relies on the generosity of its volunteers to fulfill its mission. There are a variety of ways people can get involved, and the Red Cross is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels.
Go to redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.