Large-scale emergencies and disasters are devastating but, if there is a silver-lining associated with monumental storms like Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, it is the people who sign-up, show-up and are willing to help—people like Red Cross volunteers. Right now, more than 1,450 Red Cross volunteers from across the country are on the ground in Northern California, responding to the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California history—and 15 of these volunteers have deployed from the Red Cross Georgia Region.
In addition to those who deploy to assist with massive recovery efforts, Georgia-based volunteers also work locally, on a daily basis, to provide emergency assistance for individuals and families affected by disasters - large and small - like, home fires. In fact, in the past 12 months alone, volunteers in Georgia have responded to more than 2,700 home fire-related emergencies.
While we are grateful for the life-saving work and tireless dedication disaster volunteers do at home and across the country, this Thanksgiving we want to take a moment to recognize a few of the volunteers who work behind the scenes, to help keep the Red Cross of Georgia poised to provide help and hope to anyone in need.
Sandrine (above, left) is a newer volunteer. For nearly a year, she has been giving her time working the disaster-response reception desk in Metro Atlanta every Monday and Friday. Sandrine is a Physician, who immigrated to the United States with her husband and children from the West African Country, Ivory Coast. Since her specialty is in Public Health, upon arriving in the U.S. she realized she needed additional training and began working toward a Master’s in Public Health to accompany the “MD” already attached to her name. On why she volunteers with the Red Cross, Sandrine stated, “I always wanted to be a part of a humanitarian organization. Now, since I am looking for a job, I have time and am giving that time to the Red Cross. Giving back is not always about giving money. It is about giving compassion. That is why I always wanted to be a part of the Red Cross—because I believe in what it does.” Sandrine plans to continue giving her time while seeking full-time employment with organizations that focus on health development projects and vulnerable populations.
Ramona (above, right) was born in the Philippines, but now lives in Atlanta. She is a Service to the Armed Forces and Veterans intern and is responsible for helping to upkeep the contact information of thousands of service members and their families. “Just in case an emergency happens, then we can get in touch with the soldiers and their families,” Ramona said after we asked why her work was important. Before the Red Cross, Ramona was enrolled in the Customer Service program at Goodwill. But, because of her unique skillset - the ability to deliver precise and accurate work, every time - Goodwill referred her to the Red Cross. “There are many reasons why I love the Red Cross,” said Ramona, “the work itself and the way people in the office treat me—they make me want to come to work every day.” Recently, Ramona was accepted into a hybrid education/internship program at Eaton Academy in Roswell, GA. There, she will continue to refine her professional skillset—including how to “ace” a job interview. Long-term, Ramona hopes to obtain a full-time position in data-entry.
Jay (above, center) has almost 30 years of experience in corporate public relations with companies like Wells Fargo and Fleischman-Hillard. Now retired, he chooses to give back as a public affairs volunteer with the Red Cross of Georgia. To date, Jay has deployed on six occasions, working with TV, radio and print media outlets to help tell the Red Cross story. Most recently, he deployed as a National Spokesperson for the CA Wildfires that destroyed the town of Paradise, CA. On how it felt to fill a highly visible role and be part of the Red Cross response to such tragedy, Jay stated, “It was just before Thanksgiving, a time to be home with family, and that added even more emotion. But, by the time I left, more than 1,900 people had found their loved ones through the Red Cross Safe and Well website. It felt good to know I had played a small part in those reunifications by spreading the word about Red Cross services to media.”
Sandrine, Ramona and Jay are only three of the thousands of Red Cross volunteers working on the front lines and behind the scenes in the state of Georgia—but we always need more help. If you are reading this and would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.