My most memorable Red Cross experience is one that is completely life changing. When the tornado hit Joplin, MO on May 22, 2011, I knew right away I needed to go volunteer there. Normally I go out as a client caseworker, but the only opening for me was sheltering. I ended up helping to run 2 different staff shelters. I found this type of work to be quite different from the client casework that I was accustomed to, and was not enjoying it all that much. That would soon change, though, when Charles, a handsome young volunteer from California showed up in the staff shelter. Although we both worked long hours, we spent every spare minute getting to know each other. We went for walks, explored the Joplin area, and had many long, wonderful conversations. I had limited time off from my job, so I had to return home after 2 weeks. Charles remained in Joplin for several more weeks, but decided to come visit me in Iowa before he returned to California. It was a wonderful time of growing closer and falling deeper in love. Skype became one of our very favorite things in life, as dating someone 2000 miles away can be quite challenging. I took my very first trip to California in August to see Charles, and then he came back to Iowa for Christmas. What a special holiday it was, as he proposed to me on Christmas night! Although we are once again separated by many miles, we are planning a June wedding.
When Charles and I each left our homes to volunteer in Joplin, we just wanted to serve and make a small difference in the midst of a horrific disaster. I am blown away by what has happened in my life since then. We can't wait to begin our lives together and continue on our tradition of service, but now it will be as one couple. We are thankful that the Red Cross not only gave us an opportunity to help others, but to find the love of our lives while doing so.