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Why I Help - Jacob Rutledge, Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, Louisville, Kentucky


Many people volunteer with the American Red Cross for different reasons. Maybe, at some point in their life they experienced a time of need and others were there to help them, so they want to return the favor. Then, there are others who help because they find it so deeply rewarding to ease someone's suffering or save someone else’s life. One such person is Red Cross volunteer Jacob Rutledge of Louisville, Kentucky.

Rutledge always knew that volunteer service was something he wanted to do. He remarked, "I volunteered for various school and church efforts growing up. After I graduated from [the University of Louisville], I began to reflect on my life and how fortunate I was not to have experienced a traumatic loss due to disaster, natural or otherwise." When Hurricane Gustav (the second most destructive hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season) did major damage, Rutledge eagerly answered the call for volunteers to help with the aftermath of the storm. Volunteer tasks included setting up, managing, and cleaning up shelters for those displaced by the storm. Rutledge remembers spending hours cleaning up one particular shelter for Gulf Coast evacuees at the Kentucky Fairgrounds and Expo Center.

Rutledge works for UPS; he is a programmer there, and knows all about logistics from his work experience. So when he saw how effectively and efficiently the American Red Cross handled the logistics of such a major endeavor as a shelter operation, he was humbled to have the opportunity to be part of a highly functioning team that contributed much needed assistance to the community during stressful times of trouble.

Jacob Rutledge (a dedicated volunteer at the Red Cross' Louisville Area Chapter in Kentucky) shows his camera to young Daniel Wallace and helps take the child's mind off dwelling on the loss of his home to fire. Photo Credit: Amber Youngblood, Senior Director of Public Relations, Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

According to Rutledge, "The feeling of helping others in a time of need is unlike any other human emotion." It is a feeling that he loves to experience, and he found like-minded friends who enjoy helping others as much as he does. In September of 2010 he became the Chair of the Louisville Area Chapter’s Crossing Generations Society (CGS). He gained this two-year position through the nomination and vote by his peers. This society was formed in 2008; the CGS group connects young professionals with the Red Cross' Louisville Area Chapter, while providing opportunities for meaningful and fulfilling service, along with board member mentorships and peer networking.

Through CGS, Rutledge carries out charitable endeavors with his incredible do-good-deeds colleagues, such as Brian Settles, an attorney with Fultz Maddox Hovious & Dickens PLC, Mark Kull, employed by Northwestern Mutual, and Erin Hall, employed by the Messer Construction Co. The employers are mentioned here because often the CGS members discover that their employers are quite supportive of their volunteer service projects.

Rutledge believes that the American Red Cross and his good samaritanism is a great match up. “I cannot think of an organization where my individual efforts can have such a meaningful impact to so many people across the community,” he said. And, his friends agree. Hall enthused, "I've never felt as motivated to help an organization as I do right now with the American Red Cross; the excitement and passion I have for this organization is different than anything else I've ever felt." And Settles summed it up by observing that “there is no better humanitarian organization than the Red Cross.”

Paul Beede, the manager for volunteer services for Red Cross' Louisville Area Chapter (and the River Valley Blood Region) said, “Each one of our volunteers provides meaningful service in the quest to relieve human suffering, but the young professionals in the Crossing Generations Society bring infectious enthusiasm and a passion to engage their peers in our mission. It’s an honor to work with them to ensure that our organization’s future is bright.”

Since 1917, the Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has dedicated itself to engaging, inspiring, educating, and serving the Kentuckiana Community. They work with 55 counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and have offices in Louisville, Elizabethtown, Shepherdsville, Fort Knox, Buckner, Shelbyville, and Georgetown (IN). Their staff, which includes over 2,000 volunteers, prepares and responds to disasters, teaches health and safety courses, helps military families communicate with their loved ones, and provides blood to local hospitals.