By Kim Mailes
At the American Red Cross emergency shelter in Placerville, California, there’s nobody quite like Sharon Shannon. In fact, there’s really nobody quite like Sharon anywhere. Just walk by her side as she makes her way around the shelter like a hurricane under complete control.
“How ‘ya doin’ today, old-timer?” she calls out to a shelter resident.
“Just fine, Sharon,” he hollers. “Did you finally decide to get out of bed today?”
“Yeah, sure,” she comes right back at him. “I was up and had breakfast before you ever got your shoes tied.”
They laugh together and do a fist bump before she heads off to deliver a bag of ice to the kitchen. It goes on like this all day as she hurries among these shelter residents she’s come to know and love, serving them at a time when they need a little kindness and a good friend.
Born in England Sharon retains a bit of a British accent—she completed her primary and secondary education, and found herself drawn to the sciences, eventually earning a graduate degree in marine biology. She taught for a few years in England then moved to the Caribbean, where she continued to study and teach marine biology, while also owning an eco-tourism business.
Her husband is a native of southeast Missouri, and when his roots called him home, Sharon moved to a small town unlike anyplace she’d ever been. With extra time on her hands and a deep longing to help others, she decided to volunteer with the American Red Cross and give back to her community.
“Being a Red Cross volunteer makes me feel good,” Sharon said. “I’m a people person, and deploying to disasters lets me connect with folks when they’re really stressed. It makes me happy that I can make a difference in their lives.”