By Kyle McLellan, American Red Cross intern
On Jessica Jones’s first deployment with the American Red Cross, she traveled to Mayfield, Kentucky to assist with sheltering and feeding operations after tornadoes struck the area. Having experience deploying with other organizations around the country, Jessica was prepared to lend a hand. The Red Cross approach to disaster response is “refreshing” Jessica said, as the “sort of assistance the Red Cross provides are those initial needs.” This is critical because, without this assistance, a response effort cannot move forward. “We can’t get to that step until people are fed, we can’t get to that step until people feel like they have a place to rest their feet,” Jessica said.
Although initially deployed for sheltering, Jessica pivoted into the role of a COVID-19 safety officer. In this role, Jessica had the opportunity to oversee all Red Cross volunteers and partners in the region, ensuring that all volunteers had what they needed, followed COVID-19 safety protocols and felt comfortable in their environment. “It was nice to feel like I was helping and creating a safe environment for work to get done,” Jessica said.
Gaining experience in various ways, even if not planned, aligns with Jessica’s volunteer philosophy that you “can’t do it any other way besides getting out there and getting your hands dirty.”
In addition to filling a new role, this deployment was the first time Jessica volunteered for a tornado recovery operation. However, as a kid, Jessica had seen firsthand the effects of a minor tornado, and the idea of what she called community care that was a result of it.
This idea of community care was also present during this disaster response. “It was a community of care that extended beyond the Red Cross,” Jessica said. People pilling up sidewalks with everything community members might need including water, toys and food.
Jessica’s selfless actions run in her blood, as her family gives their holidays to continued service. “There are no days off. You get to appreciate the holidays while you are still trying to be helpful,” Jessica said.
Jessica credits her introduction to the Red Cross to her love for Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. We are sure that Clara Barton would be proud of Jessica’s commitment to the Red Cross and to the fact that Jessica calls “the opportunity to help support a healing community” a gift.
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.