September 29, 2018– It was fire that led me to the American Red Cross.
My husband and I moved to Durango, Colorado, June 2nd of this year – only the second day of the “416 Fire”, north of Durango.
For more than a month, we witnessed the huge clouds of billowing smoke and ash raining down on southwest Colorado. We saw the devastating effects on local peope and businesses. The “416 fire” is now out, but the memory of that disaster stayed with me and inspired me. I guess you could say, I got fired up.
On a Wednesday, I went to the Red Cross website and completed an application, thinking I might help the local chapter.
The very next day, I was surprised and thrilled when a Red Cross manager emailed me. She asked if I would be available to respond to Hurricane Florence. Pleased, but nervous, I responded immediately, “Yes!”
After learning I could get trained on line, I spent the next two days, Friday and Saturday, learning all about sheltering those effected by disasters. By Saturday, I had completed my online courses, submitted my health survey, and was cleared through a background check.
On Monday I was asked to deploy to South Carolina and was on a plane the next day!
My job is to run a staff shelter, a place where about 30 volunteers live while they work for the Red Cross in recovery efforts. They sleep in rows of cots, share the bathrooms in the building, and just try to relax after their work. My two coworkers and I make sure they are safe, that there is food, snacks and water and whatever we can get to keep them comfortable and strong.
Curious, we posted a map on the wall and asked them put thumbtacks to show where they are from. Of course, they were from all over.
I am so impressed by their dedication and the endless hours these people work to help others get through each day.
I have met many incredible people and I am honored and proud to be a part of this amazing volunteer force. I am so pleased and grateful the Red Cross needs my help.
Story by Madeline Marquardt