For Jeffrey Bellamy, volunteering is embedded in his lifestyle. Ever since Jeffrey was a teenager he has held a passion for volunteering and would jump at any volunteering opportunity given to him. When he realized that an American Red Cross office was quite close to his home in Oakland, he decided to dedicate much of the time he had to help out with the Red Cross’s mission of disaster relief and has been a devoted volunteer ever since 2009.
Jeffrey is currently a Client Casework Supervisor and Disaster Services Technology (DST) coordinator at the American Red Cross of the Bay Area, Alameda County. He has been on nine deployments, both local and national, and just received his five-year service pin. Some of his deployments include responding to incidents in San Bruno, Berkeley, and numerous places in Texas. The deployment that stood out most for Jeffrey was his mission in San Bruno during a series of fires. Working with clients who experienced unthinkable trauma sharpened his passion for volunteering and helping with disaster relief.
Jeffrey stated, “It’s unbelievable...interviewing people who witnessed fires in front of them...you can’t forget that.”
His most recent deployment took place in Houston, Texas after a series of devastating floods in May 2015. When he heard of the flooding and the deployment opportunity to Texas, Jeffrey decided to help. During his time in Houston, he focused on interviewing and helping clients who were greatly affected by the flooding and he also focused on “looking for their stories.” After interviewing them, he and his team would give the clients referrals for additional assistance, advice, and hope for their futures. He stated that much of his experience there was team-based as all the Red Cross volunteers would form teams and intensely work together.
Jeffrey recounted some of the challenges he faced during his deployment in Houston, “Almost every single home needed some sort of financial assistance. One of the greatest challenges was facing those who were victims of great damages to their homes, their loved ones or even both.”
However, Jeffrey greatly enjoyed his experience in Texas and learned much about patience, resilience, and kindness from the inspirational people who were affected by the floods. He stated, “Every single person was kind. Even those who were angry were very kind!”
Not only did Bellamy enjoy getting the clients’ stories and advising them, but he also enjoyed building rapport with his other fellow volunteers. He recounted how close his team became and really wishes he could see them again.
Overall, Jeffrey had an enjoyable experience within his recent deployment to Houston. He hopes that more people nationally and across the globe can understand what exactly the Red Cross does, how it is independent of the government, and how every single person can contribute to help.