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.
June’s Red Cross Volunteer of the Month, Janelle Wynn, describes herself as a “professional volunteer.” She is unequivocally a volunteer. In addition to her commitment to the Red Cross, Janelle mentors inmates at Mark H. Lutrell Correctional Institute, makes Shoe Boxes for Samaritan’s Purse, tutors first grade readers at Mumford Elementary School, and participates in the Kairos Ministry at the prison. It is her professionalism, however, that distinguishes her service to the Red Cross. More doer than dreamer, more serious than jocular, she is organized, confident, and capable. Janelle states, “I am always looking for challenges that increase my skills, knowledge and expertise.”
Red Cross Disaster Services Manager Jeana Bailly certainly appreciates Janelle’s special gifts and talents. She nominated Janelle for volunteer of the month, and in answer to the question, “Why is this volunteer a good candidate for volunteer of the month?” Jeana replied:
When asked about Janelle’s position with Red Cross, I have often flippantly said, “Right Arm.” But it is true. Janelle is officially our Training Lead, but she is also our problem-solver, our project manager, our go-to shelter manager, and our creative designer . . . Janelle is one of those people that when she commits to a job, you can step back and know that it will be done right.
Specifically, Janelle helps volunteers with SABA (the online Red Cross training site) and Volunteer Connection, spends countless hours processing class information, including creating training accounts for all 80+ University of Memphis Football Team volunteers, and recently put her considerable creativity to work making volunteer gifts to be given at the monthly meetings. She made more than 100 beautiful ceramic tiles for the appreciation dinner, as well as, designed some fun volunteer incentives for months to come.
Beneath Janelle’s professional canopy, runs a warm river, which powers and directs her energy and drive. She believes community begins at home with her husband, Scott, and their adult children, Jessica and James, and from there extends outward. Janelle and Scott met at church in Independence, MO. He was a navy recruiter who asked her to marry him after they had dated for only three months. She agreed, but wanted to wait for a year. Scott immediately looked at his calendar, marked the date for one year from that day, which was November the 12th, and they were married on that day. From that day forward, Janelle has embraced her familial role. As Scott’s navy career moved the family around the globe, Janelle home schooled their children, took care of “our mom” in her final days, and all the while, she reached beyond the family and volunteered. “We are givers,” Janelle states simply.
The Red Cross is a welcoming harbor for “givers” and gives back in kind. Janelle’s dedicated service to our organization has provided her with many keenly felt experiences. Her most memorable was of an elderly gentleman found wandering on the interstate. A police officer took him to the Crossville Red Cross shelter where Janelle and the other volunteers took care of him until his family picked him up the next morning. She said, “It was storming that night, icy, and there were widespread power outages. Just knowing that we took care of him, that we watched out for him when he needed us, was . . . well, maybe it kept him from freezing to death . . . That is when you realize the shelter is here for a purpose.” When the man’s family came the next day to take him home, he asked to stay at the shelter because, he said, he felt cared for and had enjoyed his visit. “I guess we’ve done our job then,” she said with a shrug and a smile.
Story Credit: Kathleen Bradley/American Red Cross