By Larry Dietz
“Being able to make a difference,” is what motivates Tom Tanner, Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter volunteer and winner of the Regional Excellence in Disaster Services Award.
Tom is one of those unsung heroes who just does what is needed without being asked. Tom’s dedication to the Red Cross evolved from his family and his midwestern values.
“My maternal grandmother was a Red Cross Gray Lady during my youth, possibly even during WWII, who drove more than 60 miles to the nearest Army base to serve the troops and over 100 miles to donate blood regularly. My father’s aunt was also a volunteer in the 1930s, so it runs deep in my family.”
Tom’s journey with the Red Cross began in 1976 as a blood donor in his native St. Louis, MO. Driven by the desire to make a difference, he continues to serve in a variety of volunteer roles, including being an exceptional Disaster Services and Government Relations volunteer.
Whether he is volunteering from home or on the scene responding to a disaster, Tom makes a difference in the lives of families impacted and goes the extra mile to meet with government officials to address the needs of people who have lost homes or suffered injury or other losses as a result of a disaster.
Tom has recently been hard at work on a system called TREX that enables counties to record the history of community contacts with the Red Cross. Community contacts and parts are core to the Red Cross mission and for the External Relations team is the very heart of their business to connect organizations to address issues and solve problems whether in a disaster or a routine day.
Looking out for others is in Tom’s genes and part of his daily routine. “I regularly check emails or sometimes have meetings as well. Ask my wife, I am always monitoring situations that my require deployment. But I try to maintain a balance between being a Red Crosser and my family,” he said.
Tom is a quiet and modest person. Upon receiving the Regional Excellence in Disaster Services Award for the Silicon Valley chapter, Tom summed it up this way: “It’s nice to be recognized for making an impact and it’s something I can show my family -especially my wife- to begin to justify the time they have allowed me to serve with the Red Cross.”