Here's What I Learned

From time to time we’ll share the personal stories here of those who’ve been impacted by the Red Cross. This time, it’s a volunteer whose first deployment was to Moore, Oklahoma where she provided casework assistance to tornado victims for two weeks.  Disaster Volunteer Leslee Dixon told her story at the Columbus Chapter’s Annual Meeting on June 27, 2013.

Image“I’ve done a few things lately that are more than a little out of my comfort zone.  It isn’t that I’ve accomplished anything extraordinary – but it has made an extraordinary impact on my life.  Let me back up a minute.

I retired a little over a year ago, to take care of my mother until she passed away last September. After that, I began feeling a little less involved in the world so I decided to volunteer with the Red Cross.

 I went through the training and was actually sent out with a Disaster Assistance Team to a house fire, but we were disregarded right after we left the Chapter. I had to take a break for some medical tests, and then the Oklahoma tornadoes hit, and the next thing I knew I was on my way to Moore for two weeks of client casework.

Working disaster relief at a major emergency looks chaotic from the outside…but I was so impressed at this well-oiled machine that works behind the scenes to get people’s needs met. 

It’s called the Red Cross.       

I worked in two different places, and our procedures sometimes changed day to day, but that’s what happens in an emergency situation. I had my moments… including the time when I worked with the grandmother of a little girl who died in Plaza Towers Elementary School, but the Red Cross counselors did a great job of helping me handle my emotions, so I could get back to work.

Here’s what I learned:  my deployment was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done for myself. I got so much more from those people than I gave to them.

And I’m so proud of the Red Cross. 

Some of my friends have said things like “Oh…I could never do that”…and I’ve said sure you could.  You just do. 

Now I’m taking some more training so I can get more involved.  I’m a mother, a grandmother, a widow…and soon I’ll be a 65-year old lady. But my experience as a Red Cross volunteer has already defined my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

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