Volunteering for the American Red Cross runs in the family for Kim Elizabeth Manning. Her mother, Marjorie, volunteered with the Red Cross for more than 40 years. And now Manning, an 11-year volunteer, is serving on her first international assignment in Canada.
Manning is one of four Americans who deployed as a national disaster communications team member to support the flood relief effort in Calgary, Alberta. Manning’s job is to communicate how and where those affected by the floods can receive help and to tell the public about the Candian Red Cross relief effort and how it can support those in need.
“On my first day of work, I was sent out to take photos and write stories about the Canadian Red Cross response in Siksika, one of the First Nation communities here in Alberta,” Manning said. “They were so grateful for the assistance of the Canadian Red Cross to help them set up a shelter and [to help] meet their short and long-term recovery needs.”
Serving abroad has helped connect Manning to the broader Red Cross and Red Crescent network. “I got to experience the true meaning of one Red Cross,” Manning said. “The Canadians welcomed us warmly, and we both took the stance, ‘how can we learn from each other’s society in order to better our own?’”
For nearly six years, Manning worked as an American Red Cross staff member and then returned in 2001 as a volunteer. “Early in my career, the Red Cross used to say, ‘When Disaster Strikes, Help Can’t Wait.’ That phrase continues to compel me to volunteer in disaster public affairs,” Manning said.
Since joining the national disaster communications team, Manning has worked on operations for a wildland fire in Central Washington, Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York and a flood in South Texas.
Over a month ago, heavy rain induced severe flooding in central and southern Alberta, creating the largest geographic natural disaster the Canadian Red Cross has ever responded to domestically. The American Red Cross deployed 14 disaster response specialists to Canada to provide operations, coordination, information management, in-kind donations and public affairs support for the operation. The non-profit has also contributed 10,000 clean-up kits, which include items such as buckets, mops, gloves and masks.
The Canadian flood relief operation has transitioned into recovery mode, focusing on assessing needs; assisting individuals who have urgent unmet needs; and continuing to support communities to address their unique needs through community grants.
Interesting in volunteering with the American Red Cross?
Volunteers make up 94 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. People interested in serving as long-term volunteers, like Kim Elizabeth Manning, can find more information on redcross.org.
People interested in supporting the Red Cross when a need arises in their community, should download the Team Red Cross App.