Updated: Apr 15
Never Resting, Always Ready—The Red Cross When the weather forecast shows the beginning of a hurricane, the whole nation waits. Except the Red Cross. Everyone there is in high gear, preparing. Shelters to line up, food to arrange for, supplies to transport. Relief teams, mental health workers, technology whizzes—volunteers are readying to go, to be the first on the scene—and the last to leave.
Lee Johnson, who retired from his role as general manager of a large regional transit district, leads the Disaster Assessment Team, first in to provide crucial data to the Red Cross system to enable the organization to scale up (or down) to match the need.
Additionally, for Hurricane Harvey Lee headed up the technology team, using satellite to re-establish the communication systems that are so critical for coordinating the efforts of the Red Cross volunteers. Deployed teams usually commit for a two-week period and are then relieved by other Red Cross volunteers as needs change.
Unlike hurricanes, most disasters strike suddenly. Some encompass a wide area and many people. Some, like a house fire, are localized but just as devastating to the family and their friends. So the Red Cross never rests, never stops preparing.
In the in-between times, Lee checks the fleet of Red Cross vehicles to make sure they are all ready to go. He also instructs training courses for volunteers.
With so much to do to help people and communities in their times of greatest need, volunteers can readily find their niche, one that suits their skills, interests, and time available. Volunteers also feel the support of the organization through effective training, team-building social events, and being in action with other seasoned team members. Volunteers serve where and how long they can. Every volunteer is valued.
In turn, Lee values the Red Cross. He's seen it in action; he's been in the action, making a difference. He says, "I worked to live. Now I live to serve." And at the Red Cross, he finds people like himself who also live to serve.
For more about volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross chapter in your area, simply search on Red Cross.