National Volunteer Week


Volunteer Stories

The Hoopingarners

John and Jane Hoopingarner

American Red Cross Pocono Mountains Chapter Pennsylvania disaster volunteers John and Jane Hoopingarner support American Red Cross Disaster Services both at home and across the country. When storms struck the southern U.S. over the 2015 holidays, the couple wasted no time packing their bags and hopping on a plane to Texas. It was actually their third visit to the state in less than a year, thanks to repeated floods and tornados in the Lone Star State.

The couple has been volunteering with the Red Cross for three years. They are members of the Disaster Action Team, responded locally across the Poconos to house fires, floods and other emergencies. But they also frequently volunteer to be deployed to other states for weeks at a time, helping those who have lost everything to a major natural disaster.

Regarding their trip to Texas, Jane Hoopingarner said, “ “I gained real appreciation for the things we take for granted every day. We’ve worked with people who have lost virtually everything, and that really does give you a better perspective on things.”

“On this latest trip, we were assigned to help people in a shelter to find housing,” John Hoopingarner said. “The shelters eventually have to shut down, and some of the people were challenged financially, physically and otherwise but over a period of five days, we were able to find housing for them through a local church and other partners.

Rebecca Perlmutter

Rebecca Perlmutter

Rebecca Perlmutter joined the American Red Cross of Southern Nevada (now the Southern Nevada Chapter) in May, 2009. She has served in multiple capacities, including financial and customer support for Preparedness Health and Safety Services. In November, 2013, she took over the position of Corporate Donor Manager, helping mobilize mission-critical donations from individuals, government agencies, and some of the world’s largest corporations.

Perlmutter manages multiple major donor accounts and has been responsible for bringing in more than $30,000 to the Region that may not have been otherwise realized. She spearheaded one of the chapter’s most successful grant writing campaigns, and leads the Workplace Giving initiative at several local businesses. In 2013, she was recognized by the Red Cross for her exceptional volunteer service and in 2015 with the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Las Vegas Chapter.

Rachel Goodrich

Rachel Goodrich

Rachel Goodrich is a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer for the Red Cross of Southwest Wisconsin. Since July of 2013, Goodrich has volunteered in many roles within the Red Cross, but having military service members in her own family, the SAF program is especially important to her. She has volunteered as an SAF Caseworker, connecting military members with support and communications with their families, and as an SAF Special Events volunteer, helping with programs that honor military members, veterans and families.

This year she coordinated the statewide Holiday Mail for Heroes program promoting the program on TV and radio stations and organizing card sorting and distribution events with federal, state, local governmental and nongovernmental organizations throughout Wisconsin. “My favorite part of volunteering is being able to hand deliver holiday cards to our active military service members and veterans, shaking their hands,” Goodrich said. “Hugs are the best and being able to show how much the community supports them.” She encourages others to get involved with SAF. “The more volunteers we have, the more help we can offer our veterans and their families. It truly is a life changing experience,” she said.

Susan Hitchcock

Susan Hitchcock

Susan Hitchcock is a Registered Nurse with many year's experience working in emergency medicine and pediatric burn units. She has been the Military Treatment Facility Program Lead at the Naval Hospital at Sigonella, Italy for about a year. During that time she has successfully re-established the Red Cross Dental Assistant training program, started a Veterinary Tech Training Program, more than doubled the Red Cross volunteer hours contributed at the hospital and successfully placed 25 new volunteers. Hitchcock’s professionalism and dedication to service has taken a flagging program and made it a shining example of what Red Cross volunteer programs in Military Treatment Facilities can become.

The Dudleys

Jeff and Karen Dudley

For more than a decade, the New Hampshire and Vermont Region has been blessed to have committed husband and wife team Jeff and Karen Dudley provide leadership, volunteer engagement, and financial support to the organization.

Karen Dudley has been a Red Cross volunteer for 15 years. A key leadership volunteer in Disaster Services, she has served as the Emergency Services Director, State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Lead, Community Partnerships Lead as well as Volunteer Partner for the Regional Disaster Officer. Dudley also helped start the Greater Nashua Venture Crew as part of community outreach with the Boy Scouts and serves on the NH Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). In addition to her commitment of time and talent, she is also a Tiffany Circle Member, supporting American Red Cross every year with a gift of $10,000.

Jeff Dudley has provided critical leadership and operational expertise to the American Red Cross of New Hampshire Board of Directors. He served as the Board Chair for 5 years, successfully leading the NH Region in a strategic planning process in 2013 and statewide reorganization. He has served on committees related to the Board and Community Programs and has been instrumental in supporting a smooth transition of our transportation program, working with stakeholders, volunteers and staff to ensure critical services are maintained and the transition is seamless to community members. In addition to his Board and Committee responsibilities, Jeff recently took on the role as the Regional Feeding Lead for Disaster Services. With his vast culinary experience and experience as a restauranteur, he brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to the Disaster Services Team; supporting our efforts across the Region to ensure shelter’s operate efficiently and that clients, emergency services personnel and volunteers are cared for in the best possible way.

The Steins

Rick and Nancy Stein

Rick and Nancy Stein volunteer for the Red Cross for the Metro New York North Chapter. The couple serves as the leading presenters for the Pillowcase Project program, teaching students about emergency preparedness. They also served as leaders in the Citizen Preparedness Corps campaign in New York in which the Red Cross partnered with the state to teach preparedness to residents throughout the Empire State.

The Steins also are active disaster responders, traveling throughout the region to help when an emergency occurs. They have taken numerous disaster trainings and are committed volunteers. “Day or night, you can count on this dynamic couple to get the job done whether serving clients after a fire or teaching children about the importance of being prepared,” explained Andrew Sindell, manager, Volunteer Services for the Metro New York North Chapter.

The Sauls

Brandon and Alison Saul

In Germany, Brandon and Alison Saul volunteer for the American Red Cross on the Hohelfels Military Community, USAG, Bavaria. Alison Saul, a leadership volunteer serving as the Office Support Program Lead, is a driving force in keeping the office running smoothly by maintaining volunteer records, assisting with emergency communication messages and providing regular training to other volunteers. She also finds time to teach Adult and Pediatric First Aid, CPR and AED classes, making sure the Hohenfels Community is trained and ready to respond. Brandon Saul is a service member by day and the other half of the dynamic duo by night. The two can regularly be spotted in their American Red Cross tee shirts, providing unwavering support at many special events throughout the year, supporting service members and families stationed far from home.

Eddie Gilbert

Eddie Gilbert

San Diego-based Red Cross logistics volunteer Eddie Gilbert literally “hiked” onto a Disaster Relief Operation deployment last summer during the wildfires in Washington state.

Gilbert was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a rigorous 2,650-mile trek from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington. He was 158 days and 2,462 miles into his journey when he received a call from the Red Cross to assist with the devastating fires in Wenatchee, WA. He heard about the trail north being closed and learned four firefighters had lost their lives. Gilbert veered 100 miles east to volunteer at the Wenatchee office to work as a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer in logistics.

On Thursday, August 20, 2015 he arrived on the job at 5:00 p.m. “By 7:00 p.m. I was loading and later unloading an Emergency Response Vehicle with cots, blankets and comfort kits at two shelters near Baxter and late into the night at Lake Chalen,” said Gilbert. A retired police officer with nearly a decade of Red Cross experience, he was also reassigned to mentor other logistics volunteers in the Spokane area for a few days.

Elaine Luke

Elaine Luke

Elaine Luke is a Red Cross volunteer with the Southeast Mississippi Chapter. She came to be a volunteer with the Red Cross in April of 2014 with the Louisville, MS tornadoes. She came to the Laurel, MS office to offer her help. She was not trained in casework or disaster at that time, but she helped field calls and fax information to where needed.

After the storm, Luke stayed with the Red Cross, helping in the office and becoming an integral part of the Red Cross’ Disaster Action Team for the Southeast Chapter of Mississippi. She is one volunteer that goes above the call of duty. From giving Pillowcase Presentations to teach kids about safety preparedness, to helping organize workers to aid in the safety of families and individuals in their homes in case of a fire. Luke also has responded to many disasters that have happened the last few years, and performs client casework. She provides caring and meaningful casework to individuals that come to the Red Cross seeking help. She ensures that they receive the help that they need and regularly checks on those she has helped to ensure that their needs have been met. When you think about the mission of the Red Cross, which is to help those in need during emergencies, Elaine Luke is one volunteer that helps us move forward with our mission of aiding those in need.