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Denny Dionne: Helping To Further the American Red Cross Mission

Volunteer Spotlight story showcasing the value of our volunteers
I couldn’t do my job without him. He’s always available and approachable and brings immeasurable skill and knowledge to our Central Florida Logistics and Fleet teams. The American Red Cross benefits from his work ethic and expertise.”

Denny Dionne is an indispensable member of the Logistics Team of the Central Florida Region, ensuring that all vehicles, particularly the Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs), are properly maintained and safe before a disaster strikes. His unwavering commitment to quality control enables the American Red Cross to help realize its mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

Denny reports directly to Terry Campbell, the Central Florida Regional Logistics Manager, and he provides staff support to Rachael Zern. She relies on him for his technical advice regarding vehicle maintenance, repairs, and fleet sizing, for example. And most recently, Denny supplied significant input to a newly formulated vehicle maintenance Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual that ensures uniform best maintenance practices across the region.

A Red Cross volunteer since 2005, Denny reminisces about the catalyst that helped him and his wife, Mary, decide on this path. Repeated natural disasters in the news piqued the Dionnes’ interest, prompting them to inquire about volunteering in their home state of Massachusetts. Even though they were unable to fulfill their goal there because of circumstances beyond their control, they found their niche at the Red Cross of Sarasota, Fla., their seasonal home. And when Hurricane Wilma hit the East Coast, Denny and Mary drove an ERV to the disaster site, where they served 800-1,000 meals daily to the victims of the disaster.

It was at that site that he met a dedicated 17-year-old, walk-on volunteer, with whom the Dionnes had kept contact with for many years after. The bilingual teen served as an informal translator between the volunteers and many Spanish-speaking clients, helping the Red Cross establish feeding venues in a local church, for example.

But perhaps his most memorable experience was during Hurricane Sandy. The outpouring of appreciation, coupled with the camaraderie of other volunteers, has left an indelible memory of what it means to volunteer.

As the regional Fleet Technical Lead, Denny interfaces with Element Fleet Services, a Red Cross fleet management partner, who follows through with updated vehicle maintenance from certified mechanics and other local dealers. As liaison, he has access to an extensive database that captures the maintenance history of vehicles and trailers, types of repairs and upkeep, dates of service, pricing, and mileage—making him an essential link in the logistics chain. Denny also provides quarterly reports detailing the condition of all vehicles. More important, he confirms that the regional locations are complying with maintenance standards.

Additionally, Denny interfaces with the American Red Cross National Headquarters, the owner of eight ERVs for which Central Florida is the custodian. In that role, he coordinates semi-annual inspections, making certain that required preventative maintenance practices are met and that specified equipment and supplies are on board. Denny also serves as an ERV instructor in his local Southwest Florida Chapter.

Denny has found a meaningful experience at the Red Cross since retiring. His advice to other volunteers is “Find a niche because the Red Cross has many moving parts. As an example, the Disaster Action Teams have a critical need for volunteers right now because of many home disasters, such as fires. But find what you love and you’ll be repaid in immeasurable ways.”