Thursday, August 30, 2012

Turning Desperation Into Inspiration

Written by Kristina Brevard, volunteer contributor

As I packed my “Red Cross Go Bag” in preparation to respond to Isaac this week, I realized that it was seven years ago this week that I started my volunteer journey with the American Red Cross.

It’s the same images we are seeing today that I remember seeing seven years ago—flooded streets, the barefoot people fleeing with only a few belongings, boarded up homes half submerged. These images were the images that made me act. I knew I could help, I just didn't know how. That's when I contacted the Red Cross. "Teach me, train me, prepare me so I am not helpless to these people who need us," I said to the person on the other line.

And they did!

Highway 90 by Lake Saint Catherine near Slidell, Louisiana.
Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross
Thinking back to my first couple of weeks working in the shelters brings tears to my eyes as I remember the evacuees walking into the shelter looking so defeated, carrying garbage bags of the only belongings they could carry out of their homes. 

It was devastating. But by me being there, I offered hope and some level of comfort to these strangers who were in desperate need of a place to temporarily call “home.” As the days went on, I’d  observe the crowds with their eyes glued to the television hoping to get a glimpse of hope that their neighborhood was still standing. The daily questions I’d answer were, “Are they letting people back in to the neighborhoods? When is the shelter closing?” There were so many unknowns to all of them and though I couldn’t always provide them with answers, I could provide them with a shoulder to cry on, a joke to laugh at or something as simple as a hot cup of coffee.

My heart breaks because I know those same questions are being asked today in the more than 80 shelters that are currently open in seven states.

Shelter residents who left the Gulf Coast ahead of Isaac
and are staying in Texas until it's safe to return ho
Photo by Kim Purintun/American Red Cross.
The good news is, you don't have to feel hopeless as you watch the coverage. There is a way to help! Empower yourself, take action and make a difference in someone else's life. Here are all the ways that you can get involved.

Volunteers give the personal connection that is needed desperately during times of disasters. Currently, we are training volunteers to respond those who need us during hurricane season through Saturday. Click for schedule.

Every dollar matters. Go to, call 1-800-redcross, or you can text 90999 to REDCROSS to give a $10 donation. 

Be an Advocate:
Donate your digital messages to us! Every message you retweet, share and comment on makes a difference. Your comments may lead to a gift or inspire someone else to give. Please like and recommend our page on Facebook at Red Cross DFW and follow us on Twitter @RedCrossDFW to see how we are helping with the hurricane relief here at home.  

Through seven years and numerous disaster responses, I have one one thing to be true—human connection is needed to heal. Volunteering isn’t a only a one-sided, unselfish act, it's a gift to those who need healing and I have the warm memories of making an impact on the lives of families who can only plan for today.

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