Sharon Keith is not new to disasters. She has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for nearly 10 years specializing as a case worker. Keith, who lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa, helps those affected by a disaster by listening to their stories, providing assistance and explaining what next steps are needed to be taken.
"Disasters don't pick and choose who gets hit," said Keith. "I have seen people from all walks of life, but it hurts the low income the most."
When an EF2 tornado hit Vinton, Iowa on Sunday, July 17, 2016, at least one home in the neighboring community of Shellsburg was also affected.
According to Keith, a storm destroyed a mobile home, peeling off the back like a can of sardines.
"You just want to pray and count your blessing," said Keith. "You thank the Lord for what you have."
The family had been continuing to live in their home since the storm and had no idea that there was help available, until a friend brought them to the Red Cross shelter.
"They were ecstatic when they found the Red Cross," explained Keith.
She said the family experienced emotions including humility, gratefulness and surprise that there was help available for them in their time of need, and it gave them the hope they needed. The Red Cross gave them comfort kits which included toiletries and other hygiene supplies, connections to community resources and financial support which was made possible through the donations made to the Red Cross.
"I think that is why we all do this," Keith said. "I am so proud of the Red Cross and what it is we stand for."
The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and is currently seeking volunteers for all lines of service and leadership positions.
Every single day, the Red Cross helps people in emergencies. Whether it’s one displaced family, thousands of disaster victims, or providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran or support to a military family member, the vital work of the Red Cross is made possible by volunteers who contribute their unique backgrounds, talents and skill levels. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.
Volunteers help out during disasters large and small and have the opportunity to get involved in a wide variety of service areas including assisting in disasters, administration and logistics. Volunteers are also needed to assist with volunteer recruitment, placement, record keeping and recognition. The needs of the Red Cross change based on current events, adding flexibility for volunteers to get involved in an area that inspires them.
Those interested in volunteering can go to redcross.org or call (515) 243-7681.