MARY JANE STARR
After 26 deployments with the American Red Cross, South Miami resident Mary Jane Starr understands very well the importance of helping her neighbors in need. On Thursday, August 4, Mary Jane left for Eastern Kentucky – her 27th deployment! — to join hundreds of her fellow Red Cross volunteers from around the country to help residents recover from historic flooding. In her role with the Red Cross in Kentucky, she will be canvasing affected communities across multiple counties to assess the damage and destruction caused by the torrential rains. Disaster assessment teams, like the one Mary Jane will be part of, provide vital information about a disaster's impact, which helps inform the delivery of essential Red Cross services to affected residents. As of August 3, the Red Cross has served over 8,300 meals and snacks and provided over 2,600 overnight shelter stays to residents in Kentucky with the help of community and government partners.
Inspired by her mother’s volunteer work as a nurse with the Red Cross many years ago, Mary Jane began volunteering with us in 2016 after her son graduated. Ximena Poblete, Disaster Program Manager for the South Florida Red Cross, has worked with her for the last six years and shares how Mary Jane has become versed in so many different aspects of disaster response during her time as a volunteer. "She is always ready and willing to help in any capacity, from feeding large groups of people to driving an emergency response vehicle during a disaster. Having dedicated volunteers, like Mary Jane, allows us to fulfill the mission of the Red Cross," said Ximena.
Mike Uhlan is a retiree from Martin County, FL, and has been a Red Cross volunteer for over seven years. On Thursday, August 4, he left for Eastern Kentucky to be part of a Red Cross team that will canvass communities to assess the damage caused by the devastating floods affecting parts of the state. The Kentucky floods will be the 12th disaster that Mike has deployed to since joining the Red Cross and his second trip to the state in less than a year. In December 2021, Mike spent three weeks in Mayfield, Kentucky, to help with the relief efforts after tornados ripped through multiple states in the South and Midwest. Mike expects to encounter treacherous roads and hears that there is little to no cell phone service in the area, leaving him to rely on pen and paper to take notes and mark homes that have been damaged, destroyed, or no longer exist.
Mike has previously worked as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He enjoys volunteering with the Red Cross and finds it rewarding. He also loves meeting a variety of people from different backgrounds who come together to support communities in their time of need.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Help people affected by disasters like floods, fires, and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Written by Stephanie Wesseling, American Red Cross Public Affairs