The Red Cross relies almost entirely on its network of volunteers to deliver relief at disasters, facilitate emergency communications for members of the armed forces, deliver preparedness education and maintain a stable blood supply. From the Oregon Coast to the Columbia River Gorge and from Vancouver, Washington, all the way to Medford, Oregon, our volunteers are central to our services and our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. They answer phone calls at 2 a.m. ready to respond to help people who have lost everything in a home fire. They drive across the country in an emergency response vehicle to bring relief to people affected by severe hurricanes. They teach their neighbors lifesaving skills like CPR and First Aid. We are continually honored and inspired by the people who dedicate their time and talent to the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross in the Cascades Region serves Oregon and Southwest Washington and is home to over 2,500 incredible volunteers. In 2016, these selfless individuals responded to 630 disasters by staffing more than 800 emergency shelters; installed nearly 6,000 free smoke alarms in homes that needed them and trained more than 80,000 people in lifesaving First Aid and CPR classes. They provided more than 2,500 emergency services to members of the military and their families and they truly make a difference in our community every single day. Below are just a few of their stories.
Northwest Oregon –Sue Swift from Salem
Sue Swift, from Salem, Oregon, has been volunteering since 2015. Shortly after she became a volunteer, Swift said she found her niche in teaching children the importance of disaster preparedness. Swift has been instrumental in bringing the Pillowcase Project, a Red Cross youth preparedness program, to more than 1,400 elementary-aged children in the Salem area since she first became a volunteer. She works with schools all over Marion, Polk and Lane counties to set up presentations for children in grades three through five and teaches them how to be prepared for disasters of all kinds, including earthquakes and home fires.
“I feel like I make a real difference with the kids and their families through the Pillowcase Project,” Swift said. “The kids get really excited, and they have fun while learning important knowledge and skills that they can use and share the rest of their lives.”
Sue also brings preparedness information to adults and their families through the home fire campaign but helping to install free smoke alarms in homes that need them.
“It makes all the difference when you see the joy, peace and thankfulness people have after hearing about the simple ways they can be better-prepared for disasters,” Swift said.
Southwest Washington – Marc Berry
Although he lives in Mosier, Oregon, Marc Berry volunteers as part of the Southwest Washington Chapter of the Red Cross Cascades Region. A volunteer since 2003, Berry is largely involved in Disaster Action Team activities, responding to home fires and other local disasters in the Columbia River Gorge area. He has also been on several national deployments and he tends to step in any time there is a need for help installing smoke alarms in homes that need them in the Southwest Washington area.
Berry also plays a large role in working to grow the Red Cross network in Southwest Washington and in the Columbia River Gorge. He enthusiastically shares his Red Cross experiences and his passion with his friends and neighbors any chance he gets to try to encourage them to volunteer. When asked what he found most meaningful about his volunteer work, Marc said, “It is a very rewarding experience and when you see people in times of great distress and you are able to be a part of their recovery and help them get back to normalcy, it’s just a really great feeling.”
Southwest Oregon – Donda King, Roseburg, OR
Donda King was familiar with the Red Cross long before she became a volunteer more than 30 years ago, when her job frequently brought her into contact with Red Cross disaster responders. After witnessing the love and care administered by the Red Cross to victims of home fires and other local disasters, when a volunteer recommended that King consider joining the Red Cross, first as a board member and later as a volunteer, she didn’t hesitate.
“My volunteer position lets me do what I love to do,” King said. “I work full-time and the work I do for the Red Cross is totally different from what I do during my day job. It allows me to do something totally different that I really enjoy.”
In addition to supporting Disaster Action Team responses, King is a Red Cross course instructor and she has deployed as a shelter worker to a number of national disasters. “The type of people you meet volunteering for the Red Cross are so amazing,” King said of her experiences with other Red Cross volunteers while on deployment. “The way they come together and work as a group is inspiring. It’s just a great group of people doing a lot of good work.”
Central and Eastern Oregon – Jack Crowell, Bend, OR
After a long career first as a service member in the U.S. Navy and then as an administrative professional, Jack Crowell wanted to be able to do work that he could feel good about that allowed him to give back to his community on a regular basis. Two years into his volunteer career with the Red Cross, Crowell is now the volunteer team lead for the home fire campaign in the Central and Red Cross’ Eastern Oregon Chapter. In addition to heading up various home fire campaign events, Crowell also volunteers as a blood courier, delivering blood from donation centers to hospitals, and he deployed nationally to assist with the Hurricane Matthew and Oroville Dam responses in 2016. He is also a Disaster Action Team member and responds to home fires and other local disasters in the Bend area.
When asked why he continues to give back to his community through the Red Cross, Crowell said, “It’s an enjoyable thing to do, to be able to help people when they really need it. It’s a great experience, especially when you get the chance to develop some comradery with your fellow volunteers and when you see how appreciative people are of the things you do for them. It’s very rewarding.”
Volunteers – we appreciate YOU!