Rick, an Ohio Red Cross volunteer, has been on the frontlines at some of the major national disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy and the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. Through his work, he has helped countless others in Ohio and in various other states.
Rick first started volunteering with the Red Cross in 2012. He had previous volunteer experience, but it was the 2011 Joplin tornado that pushed Rick towards the Red Cross. He saw a documentary on the aftermath of the catastrophic tornado that prompted him to call the Red Cross and ask about volunteer opportunities. Since then, he has worked in several volunteer areas, such as the Home Fire Campaign, the Disaster Action Team, disaster services technology, and disaster assessment.
He says that recently he has been concentrating his efforts on the Home Fire Campaign and disaster assessment. The Home Fire Campaign helps save lives and reduce injuries by installing fire alarms in homes and educating people about home fire safety. In disaster assessment, the volunteers go to the site of a major disaster and assess the damage in order to assist those affected.
Through his experience, Rick states that people are grateful for the aid the Red Cross provides, not just in terms of monetary aid, but also emotional support.
“Our mission is not just to provide money, but it is also to maybe provide a hug and [a]shoulder they can cry on,” Rick says.
Throughout his years volunteering, Rick says that the most important values he has learned are patience and flexibility.
“Disasters by their nature are chaotic and when you go to a situation, you should expect chaos,” Rick says. “Some people are angry, some people are not. Patience and flexibility are the two biggest things.”
Rick says that the most rewarding part of the work is when people say “thank you” and give him a hug. He mentions one of the local fires that occurred where he was helping one of the people affected, a grandmother raising her grandchildren.
“When I was talking to her, she was very emotional and crying. [She said,] ‘You know, I had worked so hard and worked so much overtime to get money so these kids could have these school clothes and supplies, and it’s all gone.’ We were able to give her [financial assistance] that would allow her to get a lot of the stuff for her grandkids. When I gave that to her, she saw it, she started crying. That’s the type of things that stick with you.”
The work that the Red Cross does would not be possible without the efforts of volunteers like Rick. If you are also interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, you can fill out an application at Be A Red Cross Volunteer. By volunteering with the Red Cross, you too can truly make a difference in the lives of others.