Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Doing Good Through Grief: Meet American Red Cross Volunteer Corey Hutchins

written by Amy Yen, volunteer contributor

Corey Hutchins has found new purpose and friends through her volunteer position at the Red Cross.
Photo courtesy of Corey Hutchins
Corey Hutchins had always planned to volunteer with the Red Cross, it just didn’t happen the way she expected it to. She was moving to Okinawa, where her fiancĂ© was due to be stationed with the Air Force. She didn’t have any definite plans for a job, but one thing she knew she wanted to do was volunteer. The one organization she knew would definitely be there and would definitely need her help was the Red Cross.

But then her fiancé died in a motorcycle accident.

“When he died, I decided I wanted to have that part of our life anyway,” said Corey. “That’s why I started. It was sort of to help me pull my life back together.”

She started to volunteer with the Disaster Services Human Resources (DSHR) offices in Dallas, which manages the chapter’s more than 500 volunteers who have received training to respond to disasters.

“I started going in and having a schedule and a routine, working with these great people,” she explained. “And it helped pull me through some of my grief.”

As a DSHR volunteer partner and administrator, Corey works to keep the members’ applications and records up-to-date, so that they can be quickly deployed in case of a disaster. She also helps track the volunteers once they’re deployed, so the system is always up to date on where volunteers are and where they are needed.

Maintaining the database is hard work and an often overlooked task, but is vitally important in order for the Red Cross to know what human resources are available when a disaster hits.

“It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s important. We’re the best organized chapter in the region and one of the best in the nation,” she said. That organization saves valuable time when a disaster does happen. “That means a lot to me to be a part of that.”

Corey was interested in doing more to drive volunteer engagement, so recently she started sending members something called the DSHR GAP of the Week email. Each email showcases a different volunteer position, describing what the position does, what training it entails and showing visuals from the job. It is designed to get volunteers interested so that they can be trained to qualify for different positions and become a deployable member.

Corey is clearly a big part of DSHR’s success in the region, but she says the Red Cross helped her as well.

“The people at the Red Cross are like family to me. They really helped talk me through my grief and it just helped to feel connected to them,” she said.

In fact, she even met someone through the Red Cross. She says volunteering was vital for her recovery, giving her a schedule and something to do during her initial period of grief.

“It gave me a purpose, it gave me a family,” she said. Corey encourages others to volunteer as well. “So many people are in need. So many people just need a loving voice on the phone when they call in to say that their house has burned down and they have nothing. They need to be able to see your face and hold your hand. If you’re a caring individual and you have a little bit of time, or a little bit of money, even if it’s not very much, even if it’s an hour a month or $10 a month, you’re still making a huge difference in someone’s life. And it’s always worth it.”

And if you’re thinking about volunteering, but you’re not sure or you just haven’t taken the steps to do it yet, Corey says: “You should go for it. Because you have no idea how it’s going to change your life. I thought that maybe it would be something I would do occasionally, and now I can’t imagine my life without it.”

To get started volunteering today, check out Red Cross Dallas or click here to learn more about what classes you can take to qualify for different positions to help.


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