Suzanne Garrett – Founding Tiffany Circle Member finds joy in volunteering during difficult times
Suzanne is a founding member of the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle in the Northern California Coastal Region. She remembers when her husband Bob, who was the President of the chapter board at the time, came home saying, “there is something that you will want to be involved in! We signed up immediately.” That was nearly 13 years ago.
Throughout her many years as a Tiffany Circle member, Suzanne has met many new people. What she loves about being a part of this group is getting to know each person better and understanding why they are a member. She mentions, “there are so many different reasons why people are inspired to give to the Red Cross – it’s nice to be around people who are like-minded in terms of our interests.”
Suzanne and Bob decided early on that instead of giving a little bit of money to many organizations, they would only choose a handful of organizations and give more significantly. They spent time talking about which charities they felt most passionate about, which ones were aligned with their values, and which ones they felt compelled to be active with by volunteering. The Red Cross was one of the top charities on their list.
Suzanne’s commitment for helping others has led her to volunteer in many of Red Cross’s five lines of services. She has volunteered to support our veterans, inspired by the fact that her father was in the United States Army Reserve. She also serves as the Lead Pillowcase Project Coordinator in Contra Costa County, which prepares school-aged children for disasters. Suzanne’s professional background as an Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension has come especially in handy in this leadership position. And most recently Suzanne was deployed to Napa to support those affected by the multiple wildfires in our area.
Suzanne had only deployed on one other disaster before this one, so this experience was different due to new COVID protocols and procedures. She spent her time ensuring that every client had a safe place to stay, which was a hotel room in this case, food, and someone to talk to after being evacuated. Suzanne reflected, “Some people were in worse situation than others – those who already knew that their home had burned, those who had no family around, and those who left their home so quickly that they had nothing - one guy didn’t even have a suitcase”. Suzanne made notes to herself to ensure these clients come down for every meal – because in a hotel you don’t see them as much as when you are in a shelter. If she didn’t see them at mealtime, she would check on them, make sure they were getting food, and discuss how they were doing with recovery.She felt that her experience was rewarding. She felt that it enabled her “to turn all the things that I can’t do right now (work, travel, etc.) because of COVID into something positive that I can do to help other people.”
Thank you, Suzanne, for being a valued Tiffany Circle leader and for your long-time commitment to the Red Cross mission.