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Enriching One’s Life by Enriching Others

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This gentle soul needed a voice. He needed someone to listen to him and care. He felt so alone.

“Folks think that when you help others you’re enriching their lives, and in many ways you are.  But, I believe that the one who’s life is most enriched is your own.” 

This remarkable philosophy of life comes from Red Cross volunteer Carolyn Newkirk of Ankeny, Iowa.  Newkirk, and her husband, Richard, are Disaster Mental Health volunteers from the Iowa Region of the American Red Cross and are helping in flood relief and recovery effort in the Wichita Falls, Texas area.

At a shelter in that area, the Newkirks comforted an elderly gentleman they had met. He was huddled in a blanket and in great distress.  The man shared his fears and confusion with the Newkirks.  

“This gentle soul needed a voice. He needed someone to listen to him and care, “Mrs. Newkirk confided. “He felt so alone - so forgotten.” 

The husband and wife Red Cross team comforted the man and listened intently as he shared his feelings and fears. 

“I saw this elderly man who was alone and very upset.”  Mrs. Newkirk said.  “I just felt he needed someone to comfort him and listen to whatever it was that was causing him so much distress. In taking some time to listen to him, I found out he was in frail health, blind and hadn’t eaten in quite some time.  My husband and I made sure he got a good hot lunch and will follow up with our Red Cross nurses to try and get some social services for him in the future.”

Even the gentlest of hugs demonstrated how much these two volunteers cared deeply for the stranger they had just met.

“My belief is this; some folks think that when you help someone, you’re enriching their life,” Mrs. Newkirk said. “But today, it was my life that was enriched and I’m so very thankful.”

Red Cross shelters are still open in Oklahoma and Texas.  Red Cross workers have been providing shelter and food, cleaning supplies, health and mental health services, helping with damage assessment and meeting with families to help plan their next steps. Emergency response vehicles are traveling through the affected areas, bringing people food and relief supplies and Resource Centers are also open where people can come to be helped by multiple organizations. In the days and weeks ahead, the Red Cross will also provide health services and emotional support as residents begin to recover from the storms.

Nearly every second of every day, the Red Cross delivers help and hope. And we couldn’t be there without the generous support of the American public. On June 2, join the American Red Cross for our inaugural Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising campaign to support those in need in communities across the country. Together, let’s go “all in” and make one day count. Schedule your donation today for Giving Day at You can also help build awareness by using the hashtag #allin1day on Twitter and Facebook.