By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
In her forty-five-year career as a registered nurse, Laura Lyons acquired social-emotional and medical skills that she puts to good use in her after-retirement career with the American Red Cross. Since joining the Red Cross in 2016, the March 2023 San Diego and Imperial Counties Volunteer of the Month has served on wide range of teams including Integrated Care and Condolence, Disaster Health Services, Disaster Action Team (DAT) and Disaster Cycle Services. “I’ve always enjoyed helping people,” Laura explains. “And I like the flexibility that the Red Cross offers.”
Laura believes that flexibility is critical to the Red Cross mission. “Red Cross is an adventure. As a volunteer, you have to be flexible. You need to figure out what has to be done and do it…with a smile!” She credits the Red Cross with offering her the training she needs to develop new skills. “Usually I work in health services, but I have learned that the more training and skills you have, the better you can serve people.”
In her work with the Red Cross Laura has responded to a plane crash and to multi-family fires. She has coordinated and worked with spiritual care and mental health support for surviving family members following disaster-related fatalities. A moment of Red Cross service that impacted Laura deeply was helping to replace a client’s wheelchair that had been lost in a natural disaster. “In that moment, the Red Cross gave them back their mobility,” she recalls. “Replacing medicine and medical equipment allows people to maintain their health as they go through the disaster recovery process.”
Laura recognizes that goodness and skills of her fellow Red Cross volunteers. “You have to be compassionate and flexible. You have to have some grace to truly understand what they – the clients – are going through.” To potential Red Cross volunteers, she offers a compelling message. “You will enjoy meeting such a wide variety of people – fellow volunteers and clients, as well. Volunteering with the Red Cross will give you different experiences and a different perspective.”
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.