By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
When September 2023 San Bernardino County Volunteer of the Month Jaime Kammann retired from her 20-year career as a medical technician, she made several significant changes in her life, including moving from Newport Beach to Big Bear Lake. What retirement and relocation did not change for Jaime was her commitment to taking care of people in need. “I moved to Big Bear for a fresh start, a new place, but retiring from healthcare, I found myself with a huge void in my heart,” said Jaime. Jaime credits her work with the American Red Cross for filling that void.
Jaime’s first experience volunteering for the Red Cross came in 2020 when she was still working. She volunteered on the feeding team during the El Dorado Fire response. By the time she retired to Big Bear Lake in 2021, she was ready to take on more responsibilities. “The Radford Fire in Big Bear Lake ramped up my involvement. I entered the Red Cross shelter and said ‘I’m Red Cross. I live here. What can I do?’” Jaime soon found out that there were many things she could do to support the Red Cross mission. Described as someone “who always raises her hand when a task needs to be completed,” Jaime now serves as chapter duty officer, is a member of the Disaster Action Team and helps with community outreach and recruitment events.
Jaime believes her career in health services prepared her to volunteer with the Red Cross. “Working as a hospital caregiver, you see people from all walks of life – at their best moments and at their worst,” said Jaime. “It’s the same with the Red Cross. You have to be compassionate, have a heart, and listen.” According to Jaime, her fellow Red Cross volunteers have deepened her sense of the Red Cross mission. “During the Radford Fire, I was so impressed that Red Cross volunteers were traveling from Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville to help my community. I made lifelong friends at the Radford Fire shelter.”
Jaime, who describes herself as the quiet one in the room during her professional career, credits her volunteer work with the Red Cross for making her more confident and “increasing my capacity for compassion, listening, patience and love.” Her message to current and future Red Cross volunteers emphasizes the positive changes that volunteering with the Red Cross will make in their lives. “No matter where you come from, the Red Cross will welcome you with open arms. The Red Cross will make you the best version of yourself you can be.”