Doris Marshall has been a registered nurse for 65 years. Even earlier than beginning her nursing career, Marshall began her service as an American Red Cross volunteer—service that continues today.
Marshall says the Red Cross has been good to her. One of her fondest memories is the 25th anniversary of the Martinsville, Henry and Patrick Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross in southern Virginia, for which she volunteers.
That year the chapter built a float for the local winter parade. There was Marshall riding on top of the float wearing her old nurse’s cap and cape decorated with Red Crosses. “It was a beautiful, fun day,” she recalls, “I waved to many friends and we won first place.”
A Red Cross Leader at an Early Age
In high school Marshall was a member of the Junior Red Cross in Middleton, N.Y.. She was secretary of the club, and an enthusiastic knitter of gloves for Royal Air Force pilots in the Knittin’ for Britain program in World War II.
After her nurse training in New York City Marshall returned home to Middleton, where she became a public health nurse and a physician’s wife. Her husband was drafted, and the couple and their first child moved to Japan.
While in Japan, Marshall and other nurses got together under the auspices of the Red Cross and provided home health and baby care classes for Japanese War Brides.
Volunteering While Raising a Family and Pursuing a Career
In 1957, Dr. and Mrs. Marshall and their family moved to Martinsville, Va., where they still live. As a public health nurse, she started working at blood mobiles. It wasn’t very long before the American Red Cross called and asked if she would like to volunteer. Pregnant with their fourth child, Marshall did help occasionally.
As her children grew, Red Cross volunteering became more than occasional. Marshall was the chapter’s nursing chair for 17 years, providing help during blood drives, teaching health and safety courses and, once in a while, responding to local disasters.
Marshall is quick to say that her 17-year chairmanship was on again, off again. Her husband and she worked in the missionary field, so she checked in with the Red Cross when she was back home in the United States. “The chapter always had something for me to do,” she laughs.
There were also plenty of things for her to do while with her husband overseas. She worked for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at a refugee camp in Thailand, a tuberculosis hospital in Malaysia, with Vietnamese refugees another year and ten years later found herself back in Thailand.
A Lifetime of Volunteer Memories
When in the United States Marshall taught Red Cross classes in home health care and mother and baby care. Soon she became certified to teach Lamaze, and through the Red Cross chapter prepared women for natural childbirth.
One of the best parts of being a Red Cross volunteer for Marshall has come from teaching the Lamaze classes. “I may meet a woman casually, and she will say, ‘Oh, you taught me how to breathe—20 years ago—you helped me have my baby.’ It sort of gives me a thrill to have helped in this way,” Marshall says.
Marshall also gets recognized for her volunteer work with blood drives. Recently our local Congressman recognized me,” she says, “he is a frequent donor.”
A six-gallon donor herself, Marshall has done just about every volunteer job nurses have been allowed to perform during Red Cross blood collections. “The Red Cross really keeps us busy,” she quips.
Right now she mostly recruits other volunteers to greet blood donors and to serve snacks in the refreshment area after donors give blood. Marshall is chair of the Red Cross unit at her church; the unit provides volunteers to staff a monthly blood drive at a Martinsville mall. She also manages and recruits nurse volunteers for regularly scheduled blood pressure clinics.