Over his seven years with the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Chapter, Charlie Vires has worked as a Disaster Action Team member and with Mass Care and Logistics teams to respond to fires, floods and other disasters.
He also coordinates community partners for successful blood donation drives. Most recently Charlie provided direct support to the Regional Disaster Office with management and communication including being the DAT regional lead.
For his efforts, Charlies recently was honored by the Red Cross Missouri-Arkansas Region with the Disaster Cycle Services Volunteer IMPACT Award.
“The award is an accumulation of time and effort with the Red Cross. It is nice to hear the thank you. It is very important to me but I could not have done it without a tremendous team behind me,” he said.
Charlie said what he appreciates most, whether helping out at a home fire or on a national disaster response like Hurricane Ian in Florida, is seeing the comfort the Red Cross provides to those in times of need and knowing he had a small role in making that happen.
Commenting on becoming a Red Cross volunteer, Charlie said, “I think, give it a try. Nothing we do in Red Cross is by yourself. We get tremendous training and support network. Look seriously what you want to do and what jobs are needed. Much education and skills are transferrable from the private sector to the Red Cross.”
As an example of how being a Red Cross volunteer can result in unexpected benefits, Charlie recalled helping install free smoke alarms in homes in a neighborhood. Later, he was at a Red Cross distribution center open house when a woman came up to him.
“She said ‘You probably don’t remember me but you installed a smoke detector in my home and we recently had a fire but our family was saved due to the smoke detector. And now I’m volunteering with Red Cross too.’ That’s an experience that is very meaningful to me,” Charlie said.
Charlie said he has learned a lot being a Red Cross volunteer, but one of the most important lessons is that Red Cross efforts are team efforts.
“Regardless of the disaster, none of us are on an island…we all take our experiences to the community to provide support and recovery,” he said. “Check your ego at the door, we will all work together to get the job done.”