By Mimi Teller
Redondo Beach resident, Beth Morrissey, was watching the news from the comfort of her home as Hurricane Ian bore down on Florida. The segment closed announcing the American Red Cross was in urgent need of people to deploy to the region as volunteers, prompting her into action.
For many years Beth visited Florida annually — her father lived in Ft. Myers for seven years and her family vacationed annually on Sanibel Island, two communities that took direct and devastating hits from the hurricane. Beth felt a strong fondness for Sanibel Island, for the locals and the island’s tranquil beauty, and she had only recently visited this past April too. While watching the news her heart pained for all affected and suddenly, a light bulb went off; for the first time in her adult life, Beth could leave town for two weeks on short notice. It was perfect timing in her life to support the Red Cross response to Hurricane Ian.
Beth researched the volunteering website, filled out the necessary applications and promptly began her virtual training. Within three days she completed all the training required to deploy as a disaster responder with the Red Cross.
“I was very impressed by the website’s structure and the entire online training process,” shared Beth. “Everything was well organized and clearly defined — all the information I needed to prepare for deployment was at my fingertips.”
While Beth is no stranger to volunteering, she has never had the time to be a part of an organization nor work outside her local community. As a 40-year career professional, mother to four, stepmother to two and grandmother to two, it’s only now, as she takes time off to find a more meaningful line of work that Beth can help communities beyond her local PTA and school board.
Newly and fully trained to work as both a shelter associate and caseworker, Beth deployed as a shelter worker to relieve the workforce completing the initial two weeks of the disaster’s response on Oct. 13, 2022. As Beth prepared for deployment — she connected with other Red Cross volunteers and staff for tips on what to pack, including what clothes to bring and other sundries. Beth says she is also reflecting on what it means to deploy to a disaster zone; she plans to keep an open mind, remain flexible and understand things can change quickly. She realizes the needs are tremendous and plans to do whatever is required, learning as she goes.
“All I learned about the Red Cross was new information for me,” said Beth. “Prior to my training I didn’t know exactly what they did, but the training clips and videos explained all they do and what they don’t do during a disaster. The training truly defined the purpose of the Red Cross.”
VOLUNTEER: If you have the time, you can make a significant impact as a Red Cross volunteer. Learn about our most urgently needed volunteer positions in Los Angeles by attending a volunteer information session. Visit redcross.org/la to sign up and get involved today.