What struck the new Branch Manager for the American Red Cross Southwest Florida Chapter on his arrival to Arcadia, FL was that many of the volunteers that he was interviewing were former clients who lost everything due to Hurricane Charley in 2004. A lot of them said it takes their mind off their own problems to help someone else. It is almost two full years after Charley and these same volunteers are still working every day for the Red Cross—with smiles on their faces.
The most important lesson is it does not take much to be a huge benefit to someone else. Americans respond when neighbors are in need, and these volunteers from DeSoto County have responded to not only the long-term recovery in their own community. They are also on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the field and behind the desk. The volunteers train others in lifesaving skills, respond to disasters nationally and locally, raise funds, assist in blood drives, and educate their community in disaster preparedness.
The DeSoto County volunteers find that people believe the American Red Cross is only in the community to take blood; however, on a day to day basis they respond to fires, disasters, assist victims with food and clothes supplies as well as education.
These dedicated men and women devoted more than 6,000 hours to their community last year. Some volunteers are retirees and others are students, yet every one of them finds the time to help a child, adult, or family that is in need.