By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
There are few people who would credit the COVID-19 pandemic for bringing something positive into their lives. But for October 2021 Volunteer of the Month, Doug Sanger, the pandemic did just that. “My wife and I were living part-time in Thailand when COVID-19 broke out,” Doug explains. “We decided we needed to move home to Murrieta. Suddenly I had time on my hands and needed to find something worthwhile to keep me occupied.”
His desire to do something worthwhile led Doug to the American Red Cross. He joined the Red Cross in April 2020 as a member of Riverside’s Disaster Action Team (DAT) and Sheltering Team. Doug’s leadership skills and his willingness to complete additional trainings ultimately led to his current position as Chapter Feeding Lead. “I’m responsible for making sure people get fed. For a Chapter Feeding Lead during COVID-19, the job has grown a little more complicated. We spend a lot of time completing 6409 purchasing orders, coordinating pickups from restaurants, and making deliveries to group facilities, hotels, and homes.”
Doug understands the importance of teamwork. After serving 30 years in the Orange County Probation Office, he retired as Chief Deputy Probation Officer. Doug has experienced that same sense of teamwork on the four Disaster Reponses he has served on since joining the Red Cross. “It’s all about safety and compassion for Red Cross volunteers.”
When asked to name a special “Red Cross moment,” Doug hesitates. “It seems kind of strange to say a situation that has so much hurt could be special.” Then he recalls his work at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds during the August 2020 wildfires that burned over 86,000 acres and destroyed 1,490 structures, many of them private homes. “These were proud, independent people we were helping. Many of these people had built their own homes. It was wonderful to see the Red Cross providing for these special people in their time of need.”
Doug goes on to describe the special qualities of his fellow Red Cross volunteers. “These people are some of the most amazing, brilliant, genuine people I have ever worked with. This is why volunteering with them is so rewarding.”
Doug’s message to potential Red Cross volunteers is simple and powerful. “If you really want to meet the needs of people in crisis, if you want to be a voice for good, there is no better way to serve than through the Red Cross.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.