Monday, February 2, 2009

The American Red Cross--When Help Can't Wait

I am a proud volunteer for the American Red Cross and have served both locally and nationally. My own State of Washington recently suffered massive floods and I served in two capacities. My husband, Bruce, and I, along with other team members, opened a shelter at a local church for flood victims. Some flood victims came to us wet and cold, needing dry clothes, warm food and a safe place to stay. A shelter also serves as a meeting place for victims to wait until family or friends can pick them up.

While we worked in that shelter, other volunteers were busy bringing food and materials to us and other strategically located shelters, working around the clock to ensure victims and workers’ needs were met.

Later, as the floods ran their course and people were allowed to return to their homes, or worse, if they could not return because of flood damage, the Red Cross stepped up to the next level of assistance. I worked at the Seattle Headquarters assisting the affected chapters in meeting the needs of their communities. As a Client Services Administrator, I facilitate a Service Delivery Plan, describing how we will actually go about meeting client needs, plan a budget, and act as support to volunteers working in Client Casework, Health Services, Mental Health Services, and begin the process of Recovery, Planning & Assistance–a program that works in conjunction with other community resources.

Probably one of the most heart-warming sights a disaster victim can see is an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) lumbering toward them with hot food, hot drinks, water and snacks. The ERVs make stops in pre-announced locations in the damaged area, allowing people to get a meal without having to leave their homes while they’re cleaning up. Also in pre-designated sites, bulk items are available, such as cleaning supplies and items to help assist in recovery.

In addition to local responses, such as house fires, I also respond to national disasters and have worked in 17 states and U.S. territories, some of the states, like Louisiana, several times. I have now responded to 36 national disasters.

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, is committed to meeting the needs of victims of disaster and to educating people to help prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

With so many disasters happening in a short period of time, the Red Cross is running low of funds. Donations are welcomed and encouraged to support this vital work which helps neighbors in time of need. Please contact your local chapter for contribution information, or visit


velda brotherton said...

Mary, Thanks for all the good work the Red Cross does through your caring hands. My family on my mother's side is related to Clara Barton, so I have a special connection to your organization. You do some great works.

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Mary, A great article about the Washington floods. You and your husband are caring angels. I remember the two of you being here in Florida during Hurricane Charles back in 2004 when the humidity was 106. It is devastating and mind boggling when a disaster hits. The Red Cross helped us to pull through by handing out meals and water. Thank you both for your time and service that you give with a loving heart.

Gwyn Ramsey

Arletta Dawdy said...

Dear Mary,
Thank you for your services on behalf of all who have benefitted from ARC over the years. My family and I thank you after two flood experiences!

Cynthia Becker said...

Mary, thank you for your service with the American Red Cross and a great description of the services ARC volunteers offer. You do such important work. As a FEMA disaster responder, I know you do the one-to-one service with individuals in the midst of the immediate crisis and often you are still serving unmet needs after FEMA has finished its work.