By Yasmeen Saadi
American Red Cross
Red Cross volunteer Shoba Brown is often asked, “Why do you work so much when you don’t get paid?” Her answer is simple.
“I don’t get paid in dollars and cents, but I get paid in satisfaction,” she said with an upbeat tone in her voice.
Shoba became a Disaster Relief volunteer with the American Red Cross in 2005 and in addition to her disaster duties, she’s a member of the Greater Kansas City and Northwest Missouri Chapter Board of Directors as well.
Just two weeks after becoming a volunteer, she was deployed to Florida with a hurricane coming in, and since then she has traveled as far north as Minnesota and British Columbia and as far south as Texas and Puerto Rico in response to various disasters.
Her past deployments include Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Dorian, wildfires in British Columbia and flooding in Texas, where she has helped by setting up food kitchens, working in shelters, driving the Emergency Response Vehicle, taking photos, and assisting with disaster assessment.
“It gets in your blood. It teaches you so much about yourself too, about your ability to do a lot of things, and your own resilience...,” she said. “You realized that whatever problems you had, they’re miniscule compared to the people who’ve lost their homes, lost everything, have no place to go.”
Her work with the Red Cross even extends past her deployments and into her home life where Shoba regularly watches the weather station to be on the lookout for possible disasters, so if something happens she can be there and ready to help in any way possible.
The deployments, the meetings and the stress of working with so many people may seem overwhelming to some, but for Shoba the rewards outweigh all else.
Being at the site of a disaster and talking to those in need has allowed Shoba to form new perspectives on her own life and to constantly discover more about people
By interacting with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, Shoba has learned lessons such as to “not only listen, but hear” what someone is saying, and that small actions go a long way.
Whether it is shelter, a slice of pizza or just someone to talk to, Shoba says people just “want to know people care about them.”
Shoba is humble but her work speaks for itself. Her passion for helping others and working with people shines through her desire to keep learning.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Shoba has continued taking classes, attending meetings, and organizing in case of a disaster. She says in the future, she would like to continue getting deployed and working in Disaster Relief with the Red Cross. In addition, Shoba also wants to assist new volunteers interested in Disaster Relief, to help with their training and to impart the knowledge she has learned.