When disasters strike, the American Red Cross sends in trained workers from all over the country to help people recover and rebuild their lives. Many of these workers are volunteers who put their lives on hold to report to the disaster scene and lend a hand.
Volunteers make up 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce. They give their time to help the organization carry out its humanitarian work. Depending on when they deploy, for many it can mean missing holidays, birthdays and other important days in their lives.
When tornadoes devastated communities across the south recently, volunteer Red Cross nurses answered the call for help. One nurse who deployed says the good the Red Cross does in disaster situations outweigh the personal inconvenience.
“I love doing what I do,” says Suzanne Onstine, a volunteer nurse from the Tampa, Florida area who deployed to Tupelo to help after the tornadoes. She was joined by 14 nurses from the Northeast Mississippi Chapter to provide health services to people affected by the storms, as well as the other volunteers working at the scene. The work, Onstine says, involves helping treat people injured during the storm, taking care of scrapes and bruises people incur as they clean up their properties along with assisting people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Onstine is separated from her family while she helps the storm victims, but she isn’t concerned. “Since I live in Tampa, if I was impacted by a hurricane and needed help, I would hope someone would help me,” she said.