In 2010, following a 48 year career with EFCO Corporation as IT Director, Joe Solem arrived at the Red Cross office and asked what he might do as a volunteer. He completed orientation, registered for disaster classes and quickly prepared to respond to any disaster that may arise. He joined the local Disaster Action Team where he became a DAT lead and now serves on the volunteer leadership team.
Solem soon found himself working the floods in Nebraska and southwest Iowa as thousands of victims needed assistance. The following month he helped those affected by flooding in eastern Iowa and one month later he travelled to help the victims of Hurricane Irene on the East coast. Last fall, he joined numerous other local volunteers in New York and New Jersey to bring relief to the victims of Super Storm Sandy.
Most recently, Solem became a volunteer partner for Dan Cataldi, the Red Cross state response officer. In that capacity, Solem is the Iowa Region Government liaison and works in that role when deployed to disasters. He also staffs the State Emergency Operations Center when it is activated. Solem has completed the first three phases of the Red Cross Emergency Service Program management series, and is currently updating the Iowa Region Disaster Response Plan.
Involvement in disaster just wasn’t quite enough for Solem, so he also volunteers at the First Aid Stations at the Iowa State Fair. He is already onboard for the 2013 fair where he serves as a shift coordinator.
With photography as a major hobby, Solem asked if the chapter would want him to shoot a few pictures of various events. Before long, he found himself taking shots at disasters and attending special chapter fundraising events capturing just the right images for newsletters and other publications.
Granted Solem is a busy man, but he and his wife, Becky, do find time to enjoy their three children and 4 grandchildren. Of course, Solem just happens to have his camera at little league games and soccer games and other special events with the grandchildren. He is also on call to take pictures for the North Warren Fire department. To relax, Solem attends NASCAR races and enjoys the sprinters at Knoxville.
The Central Iowa Outstanding Volunteer award is presented annually to an individual for outstanding volunteer service and dedication throughout the chapter and the community as well as for leadership and cooperation with staff and other volunteers.