American Red Cross of Mid-South

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

Dale Hooker: Volunteer of the Month, February 2015

Dale HookerIf it’s a Saturday evening Dale Hooker can likely be found dancing the night away, a life-long passion, at one of the many dance clubs in Memphis, but during weekdays she can almost always be found at the offices of the Mid-South Red Cross. At the Red Cross, Hooker does lots of janitorial work—mopping floors, emptying trash, cleaning bathrooms—always with a smile and kind word for everyone she meets. In addition, she fills in as a receptionist at the front desk, has recently begun going out on fire calls as a Disaster Action Team Trainee, and does other administrative assistant jobs as needed.

“Dale is actually pretty awesome,” said Maggie Adkison, Business Operations Specialist at the Mid-South Red Cross. “She routinely puts in 35 hours a week or more working as a volunteer at the chapter. She always seems to be happy, has something kind to say, and never meets a stranger.”

Hooker originally came to the Mid-South Red Cross as a Title V participant at Meritan, an organization that assists senior citizens who want to re-enter the workplace and gain career training to prepare for new workplace experiences. Once her stint with Meritan was completed in 2013, her paycheck ended, but Hooker was so taken with the Mid-South Red Cross she asked if she could stay on as a volunteer.

“Actually, working at the Red Cross is like the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I wanted to be a Red Cross Candy Striper,” said Hooker, “but my mother, who was very protective, always said it was too dangerous. Now, I feel I’ve been on this journey and I’ve arrived. I love helping people. It’s an honor, a privilege to be a Red Cross Volunteer.”

Dale Hooker, Disaster Action Team Trainee, surveys the damage at a fire scene. Photo Credit: Larry Bomar/American Red Cross.

Dale Hooker, Disaster Action Team Trainee, surveys the damage at a fire scene. Photo Credit: Larry Bomar/American Red Cross.

Last year, Hooker was a member of a Red Cross team that canvassed a neighborhood in the Frayser area of North Memphis to install smoke detectors. “It was really nice and rewarding when I saw how people appreciated The American Red Cross being concerned about their welfare,” recalled Hooker.

Hooker’s other passion is reading, especially nonfiction. She haunts her local library looking for new books to devour. Some of her favorites are true crime stories, especially those by the author Ann Rule.

Hooker was named after Dale Evans on the Roy Rogers show, a favorite of her mother. She was born in Somerville, Tennessee, but moved to Memphis as a child with her mother, where she attended Memphis City Schools, graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, and studied for two years at Christian Brothers College. In high school Hooker was a majorette and always loved to dance. It was during those years that Hooker was persuaded by a girlfriend to enter the 1971 Miss Black Memphis Contest, held at Hamilton High School.

“I was not a glory seeker, nor did I think that I was so pretty or beautiful when I signed up… I just signed up for the contest because a friend wanted to enter the contest with someone else, because she was afraid to enter it by herself,” explained Hooker.

She recalls with fondness the dresses she modeled for the contest that were provided by her sponsor, Jet TV and Stereo Rental, and the Thelma Lou skit she did for the talent portion of the contest that she learned as a summer camper at Camp Miramichee in Hardy, Arkansas. Hooker won the modeling portion of the contest and came in as First-Alternate overall.

More recently, Hooker’s love of dancing led to her winning first place in the Bronze Division of a Salsa Dancing Contest that was held in the Ritz Ballroom on White Station Road in Memphis in 1997.

After her two years at Christian Brothers College, Hooker went to work for the Shelby County Library, but she soon found herself employed at Federal Express, where she became a Maintenance Technical Assistant to the Avionics Technicians in the Air Operations Division. In that role she ordered, controlled, and maintained all aircraft manuals and microfilm that the mechanics used to overhaul the avionics components of the aircraft. Her duties included ordering uniforms, office supplies, taking company vehicles for city inspection, planning departmental parties, and composing e-mails for managers and senior managers. She retired from Federal Express in 2008 after 30 years of service.

During her work years Hooker always maintained a second job doing office-cleaning work. She credits her stepfather with setting her on the second job path. He always had a second cleaning job, and she helped him as a young adult. So, it seemed natural to her to continue that role during the years she worked at Federal Express.

Hooker describes herself as a “happy person with a happy heart…Life has problems, ups and downs, I grab the good and deal with that.” As for working at the Mid-South Red Cross, “I find it hard to miss a day; every day something different is happening. If one is going through anything in life, just come here. It will lift your spirits,” concluded Hooker.

Story Credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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