Earnest Long has led a life of service. After serving four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, he started a career with CSX Railroad that would span 35 years. Reverend Arthur Turner, also lives to serve. Turner spent three years in the U.S. Navy, 13 years working for the U.S. Postal Service, and is currently the Associate Pastor at Grant Chapel A.M.E. Church in Birmingham, AL. The two men have something else in common too. They are volunteers for the American Red Cross and together, they were deployed with an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to offer comfort and relief to tornado survivors in Lee County, AL.
Long got involved with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, working in a shelter at the Birmingham Civic Center. That experience changed him, and he continued to volunteer on his off days up until his retirement, when he was able to do more. Since retiring, he has responded to several national disasters. However, most of his volunteer service occurs in his own community. Long is a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Captain for his local Red Cross Chapter, responding to many local disasters, such as house fires.
Turner started taking disaster response training classes with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina. Since that time, he has deployed to over a dozen national disasters; and he is also active with local response. “Because of my years working in the post office, I know a lot about the streets and neighborhoods, and that helps me to respond to local disasters,” Turner explained.
Both men agree that helping others is what motivates them to volunteer. “I have seen a whole lot of good being done,” Long said. “Getting out and helping people is the best part of volunteering,” he explained. “I enjoy helping others, and I’m able to do that by volunteering with the Red Cross,” Turner added.
The Emergency Response Vehicle Long and Turner operate is currently loaded with clean up supplies; items like rakes, shovels, gloves, bleach and trash bags. Other times it may carry meals, water and snacks. All of these items are vital to help survivors on the road to recovery. The key piece to the puzzle, however, is the people—the volunteers like Earnest and Arthur who give of their time, talents and hearts to help people who are in need. In addition to the supplies they carry, the men offer warm smiles, encouraging words and strong hugs—and all provide the support survivors need to help them get through the day.
To get involved with the American Red Cross as a volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.