By Laura Warfel
“We got a call one evening to go to a home fire,” recalls Nola Boston. “I will always remember that one the most. A 2-year-old girl died that night. We were part of the team that had answers and help for the family on one of the worst days of their lives.”
That was in June 2019. Since then, Nola and Jorge Boston — husband and wife who volunteer together with the American Red Cross at the Greater Arkansas Chapter in Little Rock — have looked into the eyes of hundreds of disaster survivors.
What they see is the same: fear, questions, surprise, shock, confusion. And what they know for sure is that they have access to resources that will help.
The Bostons first learned about volunteering with the Red Cross while watching the Weather Channel. They called the number given to find out more. As soon as they were accepted as volunteers, they dived in and began their training. Both agree that they feel very prepared for every assignment they receive.
Together, the Bostons have served with the Red Cross in tornado-ravaged areas, walking along a street and seeing house after house reduced to rubble. They have traveled to Red Cross disaster relief sites in Texas and Louisiana for three recent hurricane disasters.
Before the COVID-19 restrictions, they assisted local fire departments in installing smoke alarm as part of the Red Cross Sound the Alarm program. They also have served on damage assessment teams.
Most importantly, they have listened to people share feelings and express thanks in the midst of tragedy.
“If you learn anything in volunteering with the Red Cross, you learn how to be flexible,” Nola says. “As a volunteer, you have to be ready for adjustments and changes, depending on the circumstances.”
“One night, we slept on a cot in the site office because there were no hotel rooms available for us,” Jorge recalls. “We worked for several days straight at that site. When our supervisor told us to take the next day off, we said we wanted to continue. The people we were helping had lost everything. What was it to us to spend a few more days helping them?”
Nola recently retired from a career as medical services supervisor and is a planner and organizer by nature. Jorge is a doer and enjoys working with his hands.
They enjoy working together because they can encourage each other and talk about what they experience. Working alongside volunteers from across the country to bring relief to those who are hurting, they have already made new friends from 20 states.
“Our empathy and our desire to help are what keep us going,” Jorge says. “As you volunteer with the Red Cross, you learn more and more about all the work this organization does. No matter what your background is, there is work for you to do.”