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Northwest Pa. Red Cross Volunteers Return From Deployment to Canada


A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada ignited in May 2016, consuming thousands of buildings and acreage. Two volunteers from the American Red Cross of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Richard and Kathy Volgstadt, deployed for three weeks, lending assistance to the Canadian Red Cross in helping those affected by the disaster. The fire is under control, but it won’t be fully extinguished until summer 2017.

This was the first international deployment for the Volgstadts, who have volunteered with the Red Cross for the past five years. They helped distribute gas cards, food cards and other assistance totaling more than $20,000. They also initiated a long-term recovery program, and because the disaster was in its last stages of Red Cross assistance, they closed out three counties on their own.

Colin McKay, the Volgstadt’s supervisor, said of their service, “They developed good and effective working relationships in and around Lac La Biche with government and non-government partners and consistently exhibited an appropriate mixture of compassion and professionalism in their management of client cases.”

Upon their return home, Kathy Volgstadt said, “We were truly blessed to be able to represent the American Red Cross of Northwestern Pennsylvania and believe we did Canada, the United States and our Red Cross chapter proud.”