Elaine Stevens has been a Red Cross volunteer for over five years. Among the hundreds deployed by the Red Cross to in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, here is one of Elaine’s most memorable experiences, in her words.
The first morning of my deployment for Hurricane Dorian, a family who had evacuated got in the elevator with me. The 6-year-old boy, named Andres, looked at me with big brown eyes, opened wide, pointed to my shirt and said, “are you a Red Cross?” I told him I was and his questions started to flow… ‘What does the Red Cross do?’ ‘Why was I in the hotel?’ ‘Do we wear our shirts every day?’ I answered all his questions at a level appropriate for a 6-year-old. I spoke to his mother who told me that they lived nearby but was worried about high wind and decided to evacuate. She also said Andres was very inquisitive, which I had just discovered.
As I ate breakfast, Andres kept looking back at me and waving. The following morning, Andres saw me at a table alone and ran right over and sat down with me. He started with many more questions. We were in theprocess of relocating our relief operation headquarters to the hotel from the local Red Cross office and setting up in large meeting room at the hotel. I explained I had to go to work but asked him if he wanted to see all the Red Cross people at work. He was very excited so I asked his mom to bring him by the room latter if she was OK with that and I would give him a tour.
That afternoon I saw them standing outside the door looking in. I proceeded to go over to them and Andres took my hand and walked into the room. His eyes widened in amazement as he met everyone and learned a little about what was happening at each area. The Red Cross staff and volunteers were very kind, each stopped for a moment to greet Andres. As we finished the tour, one volunteer brought me a Red Cross pin for Andres. I gave it to Andres and explained that he was an honorary Red Cross volunteer and maybe when he got older he too could experience the joy of helping people. As an honorary volunteer, I wanted to give him a job. I said that he had to help his mom keep his sisters and brothers stay calm as the storm approached because he saw all the Red Cross people and knew we were there to help. He accepted the job and assured me that he would help his family.
I saw them again after the storm had moved away as they loaded their car. His mom told me that throughout the evening he kept telling the other kids, “Don’t worry, the Red Cross is here to help and I saw all of them working.” The mom was amazed that it actually worked and all the kids remained calm. There were hugs all around. Andres’ mom gave me a big hug, thanking me several times for being with the Red Cross and taking the time to help her son weather the storm. As she parted we both had a tear in our eyes.
Although this was my first deployment, I know I will always remember the appreciation the family showed me just for taking the time to talk to their little boy. I was truly able to “help” someone that day and be an ambassador for the Red Cross.