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.
Volunteers from all walks of life are the life-blood of the American Red Cross. They make up 96% of the trained personnel ready to respond when disaster strikes. Red Cross volunteers work in many different roles, everything from routine office work to CPR instructors, mass care specialists, drivers of Red Cross emergency vehicles, disaster action team members, human resource specialists, and assistance to members of the armed services. All of these roles are vital in fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross to respond to disaster whenever and wherever it strikes. You can be part of this important work. To learn more contact Wanda Doyle, firstname.lastname@example.org. Make that call and add your story to those of our dedicated volunteers, a few of whom are highlighted below.
A determined Dare Estok, recovering from surgery, went to Ocean Springs, MS, in 2005 on a trip to help Hurricane Katrina victims. While there, she heard and remembered a resident’s observation, “You can take our house, but you can’t take our spirit.”
Dare, too, believes that an open heart, a generous spirit, empathy for the suffering of others, as well as a well developed sense of humor are the limbs of a happy life. She understands that an open heart embraces suffering as well as joy. Tears fill her eyes as she reflects on the sudden loss of her husband, Jim, her soul companion, who died in her arms in 2001 when he was only fifty-five. (continue reading)
Longtime Red Cross volunteer Walt Bodner stands firmly on the ground of duty and guardianship to those in need. When the Red Cross calls with a need for bulk distribution after Hurricane Sandy or to ERV instruction here at home, Walt responds because he believes in a life of contribution, instructed by his heart. ”To do right is important. That is not to say I always do right,” he chuckles, “but there is a tremendous reward in helping people.”
Walt’s contribution takes many forms. Before becoming a Memphis Red Cross volunteer in January 1998, Walt taught law enforcement at The University of Phoenix, was a private security professional, a construction project manager, and central to his stake in the world, was a rescue helicopter pilot for the (continue reading)
“The best way to get better is to help other people,” said Mary Simmons upon reflecting on why she became a Red Cross Volunteer and the difficulties she experienced after the loss of her parents. A volunteer only since February of this year, Simmons has become a steady presence and a critical participant in the humanitarian work of the Mid-South Chapter.
“I love making fire calls and helping people,” said Simmons. “The assistance we provide to people whose homes have been destroyed is a gift from the American people. (continue reading)
Soon she was in training to be a candy striper. During orientation her Red Cross mentor asked Olden what she wanted to be. “Librarian, teacher, nurse, or maybe a nun,” was her response, so she was put to work at the City of Memphis Hospital working with children, an experience that Olden credits (continue reading)
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm, just like clockwork, American Red Cross Volunteer Donna Carman, sporting a radiant smile, can be found at the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she has been a volunteer for twenty-five years.
After negotiating her wheelchair off the ramp of the Memphis Area Transit Authority bus that serves as her transport, she spends the next few hours maintaining a computer database containing records of the use of all of the Mid-South Chapter’s vehicles. “I call it my miles and miles and miles of data,” said Carman. She also maintains a database of all the housing vouchers provided by the Mid-South Chapter to persons displaced from their homes by fire. (continue reading)
Josey Porras, a sophomore at Catholic High School in Memphis, was assigned to work as a volunteer with the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross as part of her high school’s requirement that students participate one day a week in a volunteer activity.
At the Mid-South Chapter, Porras has been working with the Preparedness Health and Safety Services Office where she does filing, computer work, and cleans the equipment used for teaching CPR/AED/First Aid classes. Recently, Porras served as a Spanish translator (continue reading)
On an obscure wall in a corner of her small apartment, well away from where a casual visitor would notice, hang three small plaques, daily reminders to Barbara Bacharach of an important component of her eighty-five years. The plaques are awards from the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross: Outstanding Volunteer, Service to Military/Veterans 1986-87; Volunteer of the Year, 1993-94; Charter Member, The Legacy Society, December 7, 2009.
When Memphian Barbara Bacharach first got involved with the American Red Cross she was (continue reading)
“It was part of our family culture to give back,” said Rick Pride as he recalled receiving phone calls from his parents in the 1960’s to tell him that they were driving a Red Cross Emergency Vehicle towards an incoming hurricane as others were fleeing the same area. “Just when I got my kids to the point where I didn’t have to worry so much about them I began to get these calls from my parents,” said Pride. (continue reading)
“I really love the Red Cross. It’s not always perfect, but it’s a great organization,” says Becky Williams. An even more powerful statement of her love for the organization is that earlier this year she officially retired from her position as Director of Emergency Services at the Mid-South Chapter and now she is back as an unpaid volunteer. (continue reading)
Earlier this year Amanda Gilbert was at a difficult stage in her life. She had been laid off from her job, she was feeling an overwhelming need for useful work, and after taking a close look at her life she was suffering a profound sense of emptiness. Gilbert was feeling a strong urge, a real need, to reach out and (continue reading)
In 1979 Mary Sharp moved to Memphis because her husband’s job brought them here. They planned to stay only a couple of years, but now, thirty-four years later, she is a confirmed Memphian. One who has long played an important and highly influential role in the local community. (continue reading)
Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast of the United States in late August of 2005 causing widespread and grisly damage. During the recovery from that disaster, George (Buck) Lewis III gained his first experience as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. (continue reading)
Living just across the street from the Mid-South Red Cross offices, Willetta Harris often receives calls to come over and assist on rather short notice. She does so cheerfully. Harris’ smiling face can often be found at the reception desk. She also makes calls to potential volunteers to (continue reading)
Harsheen Gill was inspired when her classmate, Red Cross Volunteer Lauren Terranova, shared her experiences as a member of a Mid-South Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT). She was sufficiently inspired that soon she was at the Mid-South Red Cross, taking the introductory course to become a Red Cross volunteer herself. Gill has now been with the Red Cross for all of two months and is (continue reading)
A student exchange program brought Laura Terranova from her home country of Colombia to the United States. She came unable to speak English, but studied hard and practiced diligently while working as a nanny for two local families. She now speaks English beautifully and with a delightful accent. (continue reading)
The year was 2000. Memphis firefighter Kenneth Brown was exiting a scalding-hot burning building. “It was an icy-cold night, as we came out of the super-heated building steam poured from our overheated bodies,” Brown recalls. Across the street sat a boxy, red and white truck: one of the emergency response vehicles (ERVs) from the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross. They had cold water, coffee, hot chocolate, snacks, and encouraging words that they doled out generously and without charge to firefighters and police officers on the scene. (continue reading)
Candiace Dandridge came to the Red Cross because she needed an intern experience as part of her undergraduate studies at Austin Peay State University. Now, after deploying twice to help with the Superstorm Sandy recovery, she is looking forward to many more years of rewarding experiences as a Red Cross volunteer. Working with the Red Cross during my five weeks in New York “made me grow as a person. I didn’t know I could handle such a demanding job,” said Dandridge. (continue reading)
“That’s something I ought to be doing,” thought Larry Bomar after reading the Facebook posts of Mid-South Red Cross volunteer Bob Wallace that described Wallace’s experiences as a volunteer during the Superstorm Sandy disaster relief. Soon, Bomar was enrolled in the introductory course for new volunteers, Disaster Services: An Overview. (continue reading)
“At the Red Cross I know that my volunteer work will have helped make a difference in someone’s life,” says Janelle Wynn, who works forty hours a month or more assisting Mid-South Red Cross Training Manager Jeana Bailley. Wynn helps to prepare training booklets, keeps track of materials needed for courses offered to Red Cross volunteers, and enters (continue reading)
A volunteer with the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross since January of 2012, David Compton is a military retiree with 21 years of active-duty service. One of the reasons he was attracted to the Red Cross was because of its service to the military. “When I came back from Viet Nam in 1968, America as a whole was not very receptive to the armed services” recalls David. “It’s good to be part of an organization such as the Red Cross that is very receptive and positive towards (continue reading)
“I was brought up to be useful,” says Elaine Clyburn, a counsel to which she has remained faithful through a lifetime of service as both a volunteer and paid staff member of the American Red Cross.
Clyburn first came to the organization in 1969 to use her training in medical social work as a Hospital Field Director during the Vietnam war. In this role (continue reading)
Larry Reid’s first involvement with the Red Cross was in high school when he took a Red Cross course in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Later, while in the military, the Red Cross facilitated his ability to be at his father’s side during a serious illness. “Once you truly experience making it possible to be there with a family member, you realize the importance of the Red Cross,” (continue reading)