For Linda and Fred Eldredge of Havelock, N.C., volunteering has just been a way of life.
The years rolled by, until Linda, 71, realized that this October marks 49 years of service with the Red Cross. She jokes that her husband, Fred, 80, lags a bit behind her at only 26 years as a Red Cross volunteer.
“But,” she says, “he was just a bit busy during his 30-year career in the Marine Corps.”
In 1969, Fred was serving in Vietnam and Linda was home with her mother and Pamela, their then toddler-aged daughter. Linda volunteered as a Red Cross office assistant after being inspired by her mother – a longtime Red Cross volunteer in the Navy surgical clinic.
Over the years, the couple was stationed at Navy and Marine Corps Bases and Air Stations in Quantico, Va.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Paris Island, S.C.; and Beaufort, S.C. During Fred’s 30 years and four months in the Marines, he moved up the ranks from private to major. All the while, Linda continued to care for their daughter, later their grandchildren, and volunteer for the Red Cross wherever they were stationed.
After Linda’s more than three years working as an office volunteer and coordinator, she answered the call to volunteer in the Naval Dental Clinic at Cherry Point.
“I had been enrolled in dental school years back but had to drop it when new orders came through,” Linda said. “I was excited to have the chance to take the Navy dental course and eventually received my dental assistant certificate.”
Linda remembers wearing the Red Cross pinafore and cap in the clinic and developing dental X-ray film by hand.
As their daughter grew up and had three children of her own, Linda and Fred helped care for their first grandchild, Alison. When Alison turned 12, she announced that she wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross like her grandparents.
“She was too young to work at the hospital, but she was able to be a Red Cross volunteer at the Cherry Point Base Library and later at the Cherry Point Base Veterinary Clinic,” Linda said.
Both Linda and Fred have since volunteered at Red Cross bloodmobiles, where Linda was trained to take patient information and vital signs, and Fred enjoyed working in the canteen. Fred also volunteered for many years at the Base Exchange Pharmacy, and Linda at the Naval Health Clinic.
Linda and Fred have never slowed down and don’t have any plans to do so soon. Their days are still spent volunteering and helping care for a young grandson.
“As long as it’s fun, we’ll keep on doing it!” Linda said.
Story by Susan Washburn / American Red Cross