Routinely serving others 700+ hours a month and often on 24 hour call, Betty Jo Harvey seldom waits to be contacted. She appears on the doorstep of the American Red Cross office ready to work. She is there in the middle of the night, when a family feels so alone after losing their home to a fire. She is there to teach babysitting classes, to educate teenagers about HIV, to assist in the search for a missing child, to offer comfort to hurricane victims. With her “thunder buckets” she teaches children storm safety averaging 3,000 presentations a year to first grade students throughout 16 counties. She teaches disaster classes and when a senior citizen collapsed at “Taste of the Town” in Wichita Falls, she was there to administer First Aid. You’ll find her at the Hotter-N-Hell Hundred, the Red Cross/Kiwanis Golf Tournament, organizing supplies at the American Red Cross Office or at emergency management meetings.
As a grieving nation watched in horror as the Space Ship Columbia disintegrated over the skies of North Texas, she was there. She worked bedside the search and rescue teams, bandaging the wounds of the National Guardsmen, offering comfort as they picked up the pieces of the space shuttle. It was quickly apparent that her skills as a mental health nurse would be invaluable. Day after day she accompanied the morticians and the Honor Guard to sites of the remains of an astronaut. At each site, she was a participant in the memorial services and she accompanied the solemn processional as the remains were returned to NASA officials.
She has offered nursing expertise to many disasters as far away as the Virgin Islands. She has the distinctive title, NURSE SPECIALIST and has a crucial supervisory role in times of national disaster. She always encourages others to volunteer. She is very adaptable and can readily step into the shoes of staff members, serving as back up Disaster Director. Betty Jo is always there making sure that all bases are covered. To the staff of the American Red Cross, she is a friend, a mentor and a “mother.”
She has touched someone in each of the 16 counties served by the American Red Cross and her spirit of volunteerism has taken her far from home and family. She always has a smile for everyone she meets and a genuine gift of gab, which could easily put the most frightened family at ease.
She never seeks recognition for her deeds but is content to work quietly in the background knowing that she has truly made a difference. The motto of the American Red Cross is “THERE WHEN YOU NEED US” and Betty Jo Harvey is always there for us.