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.
Long-time volunteers Linda and James Bomes are the subjects of this month’s Volunteer Spotlight. These two dedicated volunteers live right on the border of Shelby and Tipton Counties in Tennessee. So, when home fires or other disasters occur in the northern counties serviced by the American Red Cross of the Mid-South, especially when they occur in adjacent Tipton County, they frequently get a call to spring into action, sometimes on very short notice.
Home fires are without a doubt the biggest ongoing disaster in the Mid-South. The American Red Cross of the Mid-South, which provides services to ten counties in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas, assists, on average, 2-3 families a day whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by fire. In Tipton County alone the Red Cross has assisted 52 clients while responding to 16 fires over the past seven months.
“Linda and James respond in Tipton County whenever we call. I know that if there is a family in need in there, I can count on this husband and wife team to take good care of those clients. Linda has been serving with the Red Cross for over 38 years. We appreciate her leadership and commitment to our Mission,” said Abigail Okui, Disaster Program and Recovery Specialist.
Linda became a volunteer in June of 1979 after taking a Red Cross CPR course at the old Mid-South Red Cross headquarters on Central Ave. in Memphis. “Back then it was an all male group that volunteered [in disaster services], and I became the first female to join them,” said Linda. James has been a volunteer for about 10 years. “When Linda and I got married, volunteering with the Red Cross just went along with the whole thing,” said James.
In addition to serving on the Mid-South disaster-response team, Linda and James have responded nationally for the Red Cross to disasters on a number of occasions, most recently to tornadoes in Georgia and flooding in Texas.
James is retired from the National Guard; he served 330 days in Iraq as a member of a mortar crew during his time on active duty. When not doing Red Cross work he enjoys carpentry and has made a number of pieces of furniture in he and Linda’s home. Soon after the Red Cross moved into their new facility on Madison Ave in Memphis, James arrived with a beautiful picnic table he had made out of reclaimed wood from bunk beds that at one time were used by on-call disaster staff at the old Red Cross headquarters building on Central Ave. Today, the table sits proudly on the new Red Cross chapter grounds and is often used by staff and volunteers for lunch or breaks.
Linda is accomplished in many areas: a National Weather Service storm spotter, an ex-juvenile probation officer, an ex-Emergency Medical Technician, a CERT instructor, and an ex-member of the Tennessee National Guard. She is proud of the Cherokee heritage that she inherited from her mother and is accomplished at creating native crafts, including clothing and intricate beadwork. Linda and James live on a four-acre tract of land in North Shelby County where they share their abode with 10 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 horses.
Story Credit: Bob Wallace for the American Red Cross