Sherri Odell's Red Cross Story
Sherri Odell first chose to volunteer for the Red Cross in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina was devastating the Gulf Coast. Seeing the coverage on television, Sherri was drawn in and was left wondering what she could do to help. In seeing how the Red Cross was responding, she was moved to get involved herself. So, she did exactly that. Sherry joined the Red Cross volunteer workforce regionally and went on to deploy on national disaster relief operations. Her training to deploy nationally also positioned her well for the many Red Cross volunteer roles she’s held, most recently in serving on the Public Affairs and Communications team for the Missouri Arkansas Region, and as the Social Media Volunteer for the Tiffany Circle at-large.
Sherri herself is a home fire survivor. She remembered back to when she was eight years old, and her family experienced a home fire in the middle of the night. “I remember my dad carrying me out of the house, and we went over to the neighbors, and I was in my pajamas. And I remember people coming to talk to my parents after the fact—and later learned that it was the Red Cross.” Years later, it came full circle as Sherri responded to home fires in her community when she served on her local Disaster Action Team.
“I absolutely love the fact that the Red Cross is this network of people just like me, that are committed to helping their neighbors across the country. I’ve been doing this for many years now—and I know that if another disaster were to ever impact me, whether that be another house fire or a tornado or something—I know that there will be Red Cross volunteers coming to Kansas City to help.”
Drawn to support disaster response work, Sherri shared, “When people experience a disaster, they've often lost most, if not all, of their material possessions, and that can be incredibly devastating. As the Red Cross, we ensure that they don't have to go through this alone. I’ve been involved in many different areas of service delivery from the Red Cross, but there's just something about being with someone on one of the hardest days of their life, to be there for them in that moment and hand them a cup of coffee and share with them that we are here.”
Sherri is also a member of the Tiffany Circle, a collective group of women advancing the mission of the American Red Cross through investments of time, talent and treasure. Reflecting on her involvement in the Tiffany Circle, Sherri expressed, “I just admire the women of the Tiffany Circle so much, because they are a collective powerhouse. They’re compassionate. They’re empathetic. I see them wanting to make that difference in the world—and they’re doing that in their work with the Red Cross. That’s why I joined. I wanted to be a part of what they do together in their communities, by harnessing their power together to make real change as humanitarians.”
Sherri reflected on when she first joined the Red Cross and all of the trainings, roles, and experiences she’s gone through since. She recognized that the Red Cross helps identify what hidden talents one might have that can help realize the work. “You can stay at home and serve the mission from the comfort of your living room. You can work in your community. You can volunteer at a Sound the Alarm installation event on a Saturday. You can really get involved as much or as little you want, but I always encourage more involvement because you’ll see the mission in action and you’ll find so much fulfillment in contributing to that,” she said.