American Red Cross volunteer from Beverly deployed to Alabama

Kat Powers, Director of Communications, American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, kat.powers@redcross.org

Forty years ago, the American Red Cross helped a serviceman get back home as his mother was dying. Today that man is helping get tornado victims ways to contact the outside world.

With winds as high as 150 miles per hour, the recent F-2 and F-3 tornadoes Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 left a swath of destruction across Alabama. This has been the fourth large band of tornadoes to affect Alabama within a year.

Nearly 400 homes were destroyed or in need of repair. The Red Cross has opened three shelters, served thousands of hot meals and snacks, and distributed hygiene kits, kits with gloves, bleach and dust masks.

Ron Beckley is today, Friday, on a roof in Hoover, Alabama setting up a satellite to get Internet connectivity back to the region. A Gloucester resident, he is a six-year volunteer for the Red Cross based in Beverly.

Ron’s wife June was moved by the plight of those caught up in Hurricane Katrina, and got the couple involved with the Red Cross. Both retired from the FBI and married 39 years, they had time to give back to the community, she said.

This week he was teaching a course on disaster overview when the call came to deploy to Alabama. This is his 15th deployment with the American Red Cross.

"I just feel it's time to give something back to the Red Cross," he said.

Salem Evening News: Beckley joins 2007 efforts to bring relief after wildfires.

MetroWest Daily News: Massachusetts volunteers help after 2011 tornadoes

About the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts:

The Eastern Massachusetts Regional Chapter operates a number of critical programs and services that are essential to improving the lives of women, men and children. It is one of the largest chapters in the National Red Cross network, providing services across 190 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts with a combined population of 4.9 million. The chapter trains and mobilizes nearly 3,000 volunteers a year who support the delivery of services to over 500,000 people each year. The Regional chapter is headquartered in Cambridge and oversees two community chapters in Beverly and Hyannis. The chapter also has locations in Boston, Brockton, Braintree, Fall River, Haverhill, New Bedford, Peabody, and Waltham that serve as local sites for community programs, volunteer recruitment, and disaster preparedness and response.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.