Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What do you call a full-time volunteer? Tom

by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor

Tom Elliot poses with his Bravo Zulu coin.
Tom Elliot is the kind of volunteer that he says “you kind of call full-time.”

After retiring from a career as a top cop, Tom played golf and went fishing. 

“I figured out I couldn’t do that every day,” he said. “I got bored.” 

He heard a Red Cross call for help on the radio after Hurricane Gustav hit and volunteers were needed. 

“I said I can do that,” Tom said.

They put him to work in the warehouse; soon he was delivering supplies to shelters.

And he has not stopped working, more specifically volunteering, since. 

“They told me if you really want to learn, pack your bags,” he said, before packing his bags and heading out to Galveston to help with Hurricane Ike relief for two weeks. 

He now is the logistics guy. He handles safety, asset protection and safety inspections, among many other duties. He is also in charge of all the Red Cross fleet, managing the 138 vehicles in the region. 

“He offers sound, practical advice, and I have come to rely on his wisdom in all areas of fleet management,” said Stacey Wood, American Red Cross Director of Business Operations. “The Red Cross is truly blessed to have such a dedicated volunteer.”

Tom continues to go out on one big disaster relief trip each year: Tennessee in 2010 for flooding, Mississippi in 2011 following tornadoes; New York following Sandy last year, and Colorado this year following the flooding. 

This all translates to about a 5 to 7-hour work day during the week, plus all the 12-hour days when working a disaster. 

“He never says no to anyone with a need,” said Barb Stevens, Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager, American Red Cross. “We just wouldn't make it without him.” 

Last month, Tom was honored for his work with a Bravo Zulu coin, presented to Red Crossers for exemplary service. It was a creation of North Texas Regional CEO, and retired Navy vet, T.D. Smyers.

When thanked for his work, volunteering and more, Tom says, “I’m not here for the thanks. I know that what I’m doing takes care of the people who need our help.” 

Which is what makes him exemplary.

Start your Red Cross story the way Tom did at

1 comment:

  1. Tom is THE MAN! Tom, thanks for your dedication and guts. You represent the rugged mission focus of our North Texas team.


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