When Help is Needed, Helen Miller, Onslow County Will Be There

Helen Miller

Helen Miller, Onslow County, awaiting her next assignment

Jacksonville, NC October 21, 2013—When the American Red Cross needs volunteers to respond to a local fire or teach a disaster class, you’re likely to find Helen Miller helping out.   Miller, a well-known asset around the Onslow Chapter, started volunteering with the Red Cross more than twenty years ago by answering the phones at the office.

Recently, Miller deployed to Colorado for more than two weeks to assist with the ongoing flood response.  Red Cross volunteers worked around the clock providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to those affected by the devastating flooding.  As residents returned to their homes, Miller and other Red Cross caseworkers conducted interviews with families affected by the flooding to determine if they required any additional assistance for their disaster-caused needs.

Miller has been on many national deployments but indicated that the Colorado deployment was different because there were people of so many socioeconomic backgrounds affected.  Disasters do not discriminate and disaster recovery is a long and involved process whether you live in small trailer or a large mansion.  Miller was humbled by the gratitude expressed by the disaster victims for the support they were provided whether it was a hot meal, a roof over their heads or food to kit to clean up their flooded homes.

While her husband was serving our country in Desert Storm, Miller became a Red Cross disaster volunteer and the rest is history. “I became a volunteer because I figured my husband did his duty defending our freedom so I needed to do my part for our people,” said Miller.

Miller can often be found at the Onslow County Chapter office teaching a class or preparing to respond to a local disaster like a home fire.  When she’s not helping out locally you will likely find Miller on a national disaster response; she has deployed to more than forty responses throughout the United States.  During a large-scale disaster, the Red Cross can bring in additional resources from other chapters throughout the country and even the world as we saw during the Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy responses.

Miller’s primary volunteer duty is mass care, providing shelter and food during a disaster although she is experienced in other areas of disaster response and is always willing to learn a task.  During Superstorm Sandy, she was trained to drive a forklift and conduct warehouse operations in the New York City area.

Having been a long time Red Cross volunteer, Miller says that she likes mentoring new volunteers to be prepared for disasters and to teach the community to be prepared.  Her guiding tenet is to always be ready to assist in any situation where  people need feeding, sheltering and a shoulder to lean on.

Miller reflected on her most memorable deployment- volunteering in Louisiana and Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina.  For thirty-three days, she was in Louisiana feeding people every day.  On one of her two days off, she joined other Red Cross volunteers to fill sandbags in the bayou to reduce the impact from future storms.  After returning home for a short period, Helen returned a month later to Mississippi for two more weeks to continue helping feed Hurricane Katrina victims.

“The best thing about being a Red Cross volunteer is giving people hope and encouragement to get through a disaster and giving them a hug,” remarked Miller.

When she’s not at the Red Cross, Miller volunteers with the Disabled American Vets driving veterans to their hospital appointments in Fayetteville and Durham.  Miller is a small lady with a big heart that never stops giving.


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