by Kassidy Ketron, Intern
Joy Morris said volunteering for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Division gives her life worth.
Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) includes linking military families during times of emergency, connecting families with local community resources, providing resiliency training and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals.
“The Red Cross has an amazing ministry and I think it is far more a delight to my soul to be giving in this way than to be spending my time doing something for myself,” she said. “I mean, this is for myself. I love this. You know what adds more value to the way you spend the day than to hear someone say, ‘Oh, thank you so much for helping. I need help so much.’ What could be better than to reach out to someone who is in pain, or afraid, or confused, or feeling desperately alone in a very hard situation?”
Morris, who has been volunteering for SAF for nearly three years, said her job is to follow up phone calls to military families who have reached out to the American Red Cross to contact their service person.
When a military family has an emergency, they can call 877-272-7337. A caseworker will take down the service person’s information, verify that there is a real emergency and begin working to make the proper military contact.
“So they make all those arrangements and then they pass it on for closure and follow up,” Morris said, “And that’s where I come in. I have all this information, we have these queue lines that come in on the computer and I handle Texoma and Dallas and so I call each of these families.”
One case, she said she remembers particularly well was one about six-year-old boy who had gone in for a routine tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, and ended up in a coma.
The distressed mother called the American Red Cross, and thanks to the quick work of a nurse, Morris said the Red Cross was able to verify to verify the emergency, and beat the 11:30 a.m. deadline by two hours to contact the military, who then got the father on the only military transport that would be there for a week.
“[The child] woke up and the doctor said he was totally convinced the power of communication and prayer, and having those people hanging on to his hands all night long — that child took strength from that and he came back to them,” she said. “[The doctor] said he couldn’t have done that had Red Cross not gotten that father there. It’s an amazing ministry to hear story, after story, after story like this where the presence of the family member, because of what the SAF team and the military did working together, literally saved the life of someone.”
Because of the amazing work the caseworkers do getting families in contact with their loved ones, Morris said she wanted to let them know just how much these families appreciated their hard work.
She spoke to her supervisor and began taking notes during her follow-up calls. She would then send these notes to the caseworker’s supervisor to let them know exactly what their work had done.
“More than once I have had a caseworker call me or email me and tell me, ‘We had no idea. I was actually considering quitting my job because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything that really mattered and then I get these notes.’ My gosh. For years, people have been doing this and they never heard the thank yous,” Morris marveled.
She said she loves volunteering so much that when she goes on vacation, it’s as if she suffers from withdrawal symptoms because she’s not able to call her military families.
Even during her busy months, Morris said she is where she belongs.
“I do not think I have met finer people on this planet than I have at the Red Cross. The leadership is amazing,” she said. “They really, totally live out the ideal and goals of the Red Cross. Their loving and acceptance of people, they way they stand by people, they support their people and very receptive to answering questions or accepting ideas that one of us might come up with.”