The American Red Cross depends on thousands of volunteers to help people in need across the country. People give their time to help during a disaster; to assist members of the Armed Forces; to teach people how to swim, perform First Aid and CPR; to give blood for patients who need it.
Red Cross volunteers are a dedicated group who love to help. During Red Cross Month, here are some of their stories:
Adam: Adam was one of the volunteers answering phones at the Red Cross Disaster Welfare Inquiry call center in Dallas, Texas on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. A student at the University of North Texas, he had just signed up to be a Disaster Action Team member.
“The thing I remember most is the fact that when asking where missing loved ones worked, I would hear the same floors and companies in the towers over and over,” he said. “It saddens me to think that so many of the people I spoke to that week never got to speak to their loved ones again. It was an honor to get to help on 9/11 in some small way.”
Adam volunteered with the Red Cross for a number of years and helped with the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, Tropical Storm Fay, and countless house and apartment fires across North Texas. “I will never forget the time I spent with the American Red Cross,” he said.
John John volunteered in Dallas, Texas less than a week after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
“I was volunteering at the Dallas Convention Center as hundreds of evacuees were arriving at our shelter,” John reported. “We did our best that night to help everyone, but there's one particular woman I will never forget. She had been separated from her family as they fled from New Orleans and didn't know where her husband and child were. We kept talking and she mentioned she had a brother in Baton Rouge. I let her borrow my cell phone and she reached her brother, who told her that her husband and child were safe and secure in a Red Cross shelter in Houston. She knew her family was OK and was so thankful and happy.
We both cried, and I got one of the biggest hugs of my entire life. We didn't connect any more families that night, and hundreds of people went to bed worried about relatives they couldn't find. But in the midst of all that darkness and sorrow, I had witnessed one long-distance reunion and helped put a smile on one face. It was a bright spot that motivates me to this day and is my most memorable Red Cross experience in 23 years. I know as a Red Cross volunteer I can make a difference for someone on one of the worst days of their life.”
Bob Bob was a disaster volunteer during the outbreak of tornados in 2011. He was managing a shelter in Jay, Oklahoma, when four people were brought in after being treated at a nearby hospital. They had been injured in Joplin, Missouri. The shelter was only open an hour and basic snacks, coffee, and things like hot chocolate were available.
“One of the injured was a lady from India who suffered a dislocated shoulder,” Bob said. “You could see that emotionally she was just barely hanging on. When she asked for hot tea we had to say that we didn’t have any. I understood the importance of a cup of tea to this woman and drove to a local store and purchased tea bags. The lady had her tea. Then people from the community took these folks to their homes to shower, clean up, and get new clothing donated by local citizens who had heard of our special guests and wanted to help. I have been a volunteer for five years and have received many genuine hugs but none have ever managed to mean as much to me as that hug from that lady that day.”
Being a Red Cross volunteer can be very rewarding. To learn more about becoming a volunteer, contact your local chapter or visit the Volunteer Match section of the Red Cross web site to learn more about ways you can help.