Helping others impacted by disaster is a motivating factor for many people to join the American Red Cross, but two Callaway County volunteers had additional reasons to become part of the Heart of Missouri Chapter.
One wanted to fly into action, while another decided to stay more grounded.
“I was somewhat unemployed and always wanted to be one of those people who jumped on an airplane when there was a disaster,” said Fulton resident Kath Mayne, who signed on with the chapter just over a year ago. “So, I got involved this way.”
Filling some spare time in an already busy schedule was one reason Gloria Smith decided to take on more responsibilities.
“I retired and I’d been volunteering several other places and I still had time in my week to volunteer,” said Smith, also a Fulton resident and a chapter volunteer of one year. “I thought Red Cross would be a good place to volunteer. My background is nursing, so I volunteer at Hospice and University Hospital.
“It was nice to be able to volunteer for Red Cross.”
It wasn’t long after Mayne became a volunteer when her chance to jump on a plane and head for a disaster materialized. She went on a national deployment to Mississippi in February 2013 for three weeks.
“It’s a lot of fun,’” said Mayne, who recently spent six weeks during February and March in Illinois. “You get to hang out with other volunteers. It’s a nice group of people who want to be volunteers.”
Smith has not been on any national deployments, but her skills as a nurse complement her new talents as a Red Cross volunteer when responding to local disasters.
“Usually if a client needs to have medicine, I might need to call the pharmacy to reorder the medicine,” she said. “If the client has equipment, I reorder that.”
Smith’s medical knowledge came in handy during her most recent local deployment. A client lost oxygen supplies and a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine in a fire.
She reordered the items for the client.
“It’s nice to be able to go out when people are in distress and offer them help and to be able to provide the help,” Smith said.
The two Fulton residents are part of group of six chapter volunteers in Callaway County.
They have had opportunities to go out on local responses together, but Monday during National Volunteer Week they were updating shelter agreements at the chapter’s disaster operations center in the Jefferson City headquarters.
“We need to refresh those agreements every few years to make sure we still have the right contacts,” Mayne said.
The agreements are with organizations having facilities that meet Red Cross specifications for a shelter.
“We’re just putting it all together and faxing it national headquarters,” said Smith, who emphasized they were working with information acquired by other volunteers. “It’s a big job – an all year long job.”
They were working under “Blue Sky” conditions, a time when the chapter is not involved in a disaster operation. “Gray Sky” conditions have the chapter responding to a disaster.
“One thing about disaster and this type of work, it doesn’t matter what you’re good at. We need it,” Mayne said. “There’s a guy who comes to mow the lawn. We need folks to do nursing. We need folks who are good with computers. We need folks that are good at taking care of cars.
“Especially in disaster, we need people who are good huggers. We need folks who do all kinds of different things.”