By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
Community service has been a way of life for Ken Witte, September 2021 Volunteer of the Month, for as long as he can remember. “I guess I come by community service naturally,” Ken explains. “My grandfather and dad were very active in community affairs.” Ken remembers stories of his maternal grandparents delivering American Red Cross blood supplies in New York. His parents volunteered with the Red Cross in Taft, outside of Bakersfield. And before joining the Red Cross of San Bernardino County, Ken and his wife Virgie volunteered with the Red Cross in Kern County and Long Beach.
A born multi-tasker, Ken serves in many roles as a Disaster Cycle Services volunteer. A Disaster Action Team (DAT) Leader and Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) Manager, Ken trains and inspires Red Cross teams and “ensures clients receive access to the resources they need to recover.” In addition to the hours Ken spends recruiting and training DAT and TEP volunteers, he found the time and energy to personally respond to 60+ fire incidents, including home fires and wildfires, in 2020. “With the Red Cross there’s never a dull moment …and you never know what’s going to happen. You have to be trained and ready,” says Ken.
Ken’s enthusiasm for the Red Cross is contagious and he sees potential volunteers just about everywhere he goes. “University clubs, high school honor societies…usually their members have a community service requirement. What better place to earn those hours than with the Red Cross?” He remembers one especially powerful volunteer recruitment experience. “We responded to a home fire. A family of five had lost their house and everything in it. When I met with the father to discuss the financial support we would be providing for his family, he told me how grateful he was for Red Cross support, that we had taken a great weight off his shoulders. And then he immediately asked, ‘What can I do for the Red Cross?’”
Detail-oriented, able to always put the mission first, a very patient trainer...these are just some of the well-deserved phrases that describe the work and commitment of Ken Witte. Thank you, Ken, for your dedication to the mission of the Red Cross.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.