By: Lakyn Webb, American Red Cross
The day I talked to John Kinder, he wasn’t supposed to be on-call as an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member. But his phone rang at 3:15 a.m. alerting him to a home fire in which a young mother and child lost everything. Fifteen hours later he was still at work, helping other local families who had experienced home fires that day. For his exemplary volunteer accomplishments, John was awarded the 2022 New and Outstanding Volunteer Award which recognizes new volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to strengthen or improve services within their chapters.
John retired from the Air Force in 2018 for the second time, after 41 years of active duty and civil service. During his last twenty years of service, he worked with the team that trained pilots to fly the C130 plane. After retiring, John spent his time golfing, enjoying the company of his two children and five grandchildren, and volunteering at church with his wife of 50 years.
Then in 2021, a former coworker and golfing buddy encouraged him to consider joining the Red Cross. Jumping in feet-first, he logged over 1,500 hours as a volunteer during his first year.
"I have only been with the team for a little over a year, but it has been a wild ride!” he said.
John is part of the Disaster Action team in Territory 7, providing 24-hour immediate support to individuals and families impacted by home fires and other local disasters. In addition, he responds to larger-scale events, such as the EF-3 tornado that destroyed parts of Springdale, Arkansas, in March of 2022.
He also works with new volunteers, providing one-on-one training and is part of an ongoing project to coordinate relief efforts between the Red Cross, local fire departments, emergency management, and Sheriff's departments. He is currently creating a response map so Red Cross volunteers across Arkansas have access to up-to-date information when needed.
When asked by he volunteers, John said, "When you step out with the Red Cross, you see the real world. I have seen so many people lose everything."
John is dedicated to the Red Cross's mission to alleviate human suffering and is always willing to answer the call. For his exemplary service, John has been awarded the New and Outstanding Volunteer award for the Missouri-Arkansas Region.