When you talk with Jamie Andersen, you get the feeling that her work never stops. She is the current Board Chair of Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter of the American Red Cross and whether she is meeting with the executive director, recruiting board members, raising funds or speaking with the community, she is always actively exemplifying the Red Cross mission.
And she does it all while taking care of a six-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter alongside her husband, with whom she will be celebrating 10 years of marriage in November. She recently left her role as a senior vice president at Bank of America to focus on her family.
“My father passed away when I was in college and that really left an impression on me because you can’t ever take one moment for granted with your family, friends and community. It was important for me to invest time in them,” says Jamie.
You could say she is devoted to people in general, which is what drives her to volunteer for the Red Cross. Other volunteers inspire her every day for their relentless will to help others, and the victims of disasters motivate her to give a little extra to fulfill their needs.
But as a passionate, community-oriented individual and a full-time mom, sometimes she must juggle her personal life and her duties at the Red Cross. For example, one time she had to prepare for a hurricane and protect her family while also serving her fellow neighbors.
It was in 2017 when Irma hit the southwest Florida coast. At the time, her children were 11-months and three years old. “I evacuated three generations of my family and managed to get one of the first flights back following Irma to visit shelters, where I had to check on the population, thank volunteers and welcome the emergency response vehicle (ERV) drivers,” remembers Jamie.
Although it was a hard time, she describes the experience as both incredible and a privilege because she saw the American giving spirit in action in the face of tragedy. There were volunteers who came all the way from Hawaii to help, and ERV drivers who distributed food across the area during morning and evening hours.
“There’s a lot that brings us together as human beings, such as our humanitarian spirit, even though we can also bring unique things to the table. I see it all the time at the Red Cross.”
Her duties at the Red Cross are not limited to responding to disasters like home fires, hurricanes or floods. She is also responsible for fulfilling her tasks as Chair, a position that she was assigned to this year after serving as Vice Chair for two years prior. She has been connected to the organization since 2015 and has also served as an executive director .
As Chair, her main role is to work closely with the executive director to address what the chapter, which covers four counties, needs and to prepare for upcoming national campaigns such as Sound the Alarm. She leads the Board by running meetings, setting fundraising goals and motivating its members to work toward those goals.
One major Board initiative was the Centennial Gala & Celebration on March 9, 2018. At that event, in which the chapter celebrated 100 years of service, the Red Cross raised enough money to purchase a brand new ERV and two SUVs.
“As Philanthropy Chair at that time, I was proud of the partnership between the Gala Chair, our Board, and Tiffany Circle members who came together to put on this event and fund the needs of our chapter,” says Jamie, who also notes that the chapter not only fundraises for its community, but also to benefit other chapters across the nation whenever a need arises due to disaster.
Jamie also helps with volunteer recruitment and can act as a Red Cross spokesperson. “It’s about letting our community know that we are here, what we do and how they can prepare, while also inviting them to get involved,” explains Jamie.
What all of her roles have in common is the possibility of establishing connections and building relationships with all the people involved in the Red Cross mission. Jamie is no stranger to connecting and communicating with people from different backgrounds, having lived in six U.S. states throughout her life and also abroad in England and South Korea.
“Having been raised in different places gave me an appreciation for different pockets of experience and of what every region in our country has to offer. It also gave me a real appreciation of the job the Red Cross does by serving the needs of the entire nation while implementing local efforts.”
In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Jamie also serves as Vice Chair of the Community School of Naples’ “CSN Fund for Excellence,” participates with the Business Hall of Fame Advisory Board for Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida and in the Infrastructure Sales Surtax Oversight Committee.
She wouldn’t be the generous, hard-working mother of two if it wasn’t for her parents who showed her the power of giving.
“I come from a family of faith, so I was raised to think it’s inherent in all of us to give back.”
Written by Diana Bello Aristizábal
Photos provided by Jill Palmer