“I wouldn’t trade my life for the world.”
That’s how Catherine Reed sums up her life in the American Red Cross. Catherine, a disaster program manager in Ohio, oversees all aspects of disaster services for her chapter. She gets the early morning and late night calls when fire erupts in a multi-unit apartment complex. She has to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice to a large-scale disaster out of state. And she does the behind-the-scenes work that supports, tracks, and improves this frontline activity.
For 15 years, Catherine got those calls in another role: that of a firefighter and medic. When a colleague at a fire scene invited her to consider volunteering for the Red Cross, she was hooked.
“The big thing is, we choose to be here because we know we can do good,” she says.
Catherine has been “doing good” with the Red Cross for more than 30 years, in multiple states and a variety of positions. She began as a CPR/First Aid instructor, a natural for her with her background as a medic. Her Red Cross resume also includes serving as a kitchen manager and food-truck driver.
In her current position as a disaster program manager, she is part of the support structure that makes the on-the-ground humanitarian work happen. She helps her community in the West Central Ohio Chapter prepare for disasters, respond when a disaster strikes, and recover when the crisis is over. Catherine’s leadership role includes building relationships with community leaders and organizations able to partner with the Red Cross to meet the community’s needs.
As is true throughout the Red Cross, Catherine’s department consists primarily of volunteers. Having volunteered herself for many years, she understands what motivates volunteers and how to support them.
“Most people don’t understand the scope of what we do until they’re involved, and then they’re overwhelmed by opportunities,” she says. “I enjoy helping them find their niche. I’m glad to see volunteers develop as leaders, training them, being able to see someone blossom.”
“You can do something worldwide or in your hometown,” she says. “The sky is the limit as the Red Cross can take you just about anywhere. Don’t want to get off the couch, stay at home? We can do that too. We can find something to fit for everyone.”
Whether it’s responding to a volunteer’s call from a fire scene, deploying to a national disaster, or helping a volunteer debrief after a fire, Catherine’s work is in sync with her beliefs.
“It has a wide scope. It is very fulfilling every single day to come in to work and help someone, to touch a life,” she says. “If in some small way I make someone’s life better, I’m doing my job.”
Do you want to respond to home fires? Install smoke alarms? Help military families communicate with their loved ones? These are just a few of the dozens of volunteer opportunities available through the American Red Cross. Explore them at http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer