When deadly tornadoes devastated communities in Texas, Donna Hathaway responded the way a Red Cross Volunteer always does - with sleeves up and an open heart. Like most deployments, Donna made the journey within twelve hours of the call to go. Initially nervous, not knowing what the situation on the ground would be like, she and her fellow Red Cross Volunteers were able to assist many affected families to recover and move on.
Donna joined the Red Cross in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Eager to contribute to the community, Donna learned that the American Red Cross needed volunteers to support disaster relief work. At that time she was working as a Nurse Manager at a Rehabilitation facility in Connecticut. After a week’s training, Donna went on her first deployment to New Orleans. Since then, Donna went on several other deployments, including one in the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook school shootings. She saw firsthand how the presence of Red Cross volunteers offered much needed solace to the victim’s families, which strengthened her belief in the Red Cross mission.
Donna reached Texas on December 30, 2015. During her twelve day deployment, she headed a team that was tasked with community outreach. She met hundreds of people whose lives were shattered by the storms, learned their immediate needs, and provided much needed support. Red Cross volunteers provided cleanup equipment, assistance with obtaining medications, and provided medical aid to the injured. Donna also served as a Supervising Registered Nurse (RN) in a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC). She coordinated relief work done by multiple agencies on the ground.
Donna says that her Texas deployment has been one of the most rewarding experiences. The hug that she received from an elderly gentleman after Red Cross gave him the much needed medications, or the gratitude that a wife expressed after receiving financial assistance for her uninsured husband who was hurt while saving the family, are the memories which will last with her forever.
Donna humbly admits that the work she and her team did would not replace the loss of life and homes caused by the storm. But she is happy that she could at least ease the pain felt by people in the storm’s aftermath. In her own words, “A kind voice, a listening ear, a hug, a new pair of glasses, or replacement of much needed medications” go a long way in the overall healing process.
Now, Donna is back to her role as the Lead Nurse in Red Cross Territory 4. She has been married for forty-six years and is a proud mother and grandmother of two sons, and three grandchildren. She retired from her full time nursing job four years ago but continues to volunteer for her church. Her hobbies include reading and kayaking. She is also a Certified Energy Healer and Reiki Practitioner. Donna’s husband Ron, also a Red Cross Volunteer, teaches part-time. She stands ready for her next deployment, whenever and wherever “the need is real and the time is now.”