In the Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross, Lois Croxton volunteers about 45 hours a week helping community members in need.
Volunteers are the backbone of the American Red Cross, making up about 90 percent of the workforce. Croxton is one of those key volunteers. Her volunteer roles span multiple areas of the Red Cross, from children’s disaster preparedness teacher, to disaster casework manager.
As a casework manager, much of Croxton’s work involves listening to victim’s stories, advocating for their cause, and directing them to the right resources for recovery.
“You have to have the heart for this job,” Croxton said as she reflected on some of the cases she has received, and the trauma many of her clients have experienced.
But to Red Cross volunteers and staff members in the Sandhills, they say Croxton is the perfect person to work one-on-one with families who’ve experienced disasters.
“She has exactly what is takes to be a Red Crosser. She is caring, has a gentle heart and knows how to talk with people. She is dedicated and takes ownership of what she does,” said Pat Smart, Red Cross disaster program specialist in the Sandhills Chapter.
Sandhills Chapter Volunteer Specialist, Tracey Kohut, echoed similar comments. “Lois Croxton is very reliable, very knowledgeable, and very valuable to the American Red Cross,” she said.
Despite the affects she’s had on others in the chapter, Croxton said volunteering has made the most powerful impression on her own life.
“I’m not so much giving to the Red Cross as the Red Cross has given to me. [Working with the American Red Cross] gave me my life back,” Croxton said.
Croxton’s journey to becoming a Red Cross volunteer began seven years ago. She underwent a knee surgery that went awry and left her physically disabled and bedridden for two years. She said she felt helpless in her life.
Croxton went from being a busy mother of three, volunteer in the community, and fulltime school teacher, to being unable to perform many day-to-day tasks.
“To be as active as I had been – raising a family, working full time, volunteering, etc., and then nothing, became depressing,” Croxton said.
In that time, she visited numerous doctors, trying everything recommended in an attempt to become mobile again. Without success, Croxton began to question her usefulness.
“I couldn’t drive because, even though it was my left knee, I couldn’t find a place in the car to put my leg that didn’t cause a lot of pain,” Croxton said. “I hated the way I felt, and didn’t know what to do about it.”
After two years of searching for a cure, Croxton finally found a wrap that allowed her to become somewhat mobile again.
“God must have finally said it is time for you to get back on your feet and go forth into the world again,” she said.
Though it was still painful for her to move around, she managed to drive again. Now she wanted something to do. On a whim, Croxton visited the American Red Cross to learn about volunteer opportunities.
She recalls walking in the Red Cross and feeling that she could be of use. So, she interviewed, filled out her paperwork, and embarked on her volunteer journey.
After working the front desk for a while she was approached by the disaster services team.
While working in disaster services, it became apparent to staff that Croxton also had a knack for computer programs. She worked with multiple programs, which helped keep track of data from home fires, to families being served, and available shelter information.
“I felt I could use my brain again and [working with computers] let me know I still had one,” she said.
Croxton has now been volunteering with the Red Cross for five years.
“I honestly never even considered that I would be as involved as I am. It just sort of grew with every passing day,” Croxton said. “I think I was just meant to be here.”
To learn more about how to volunteer with the Red Cross, like Lois, visit redcross.org/volunteer.
Story by By Andrea Gulley/ American Red Cross