Some of us plan barbecues and college football watch parties on Labor Day Weekend.
Not Pam Williams.
Pam, chairwoman of the board of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter was waiting to find out if she’ll be headed to the Houston area in response to Hurricane Harvey.
As of Monday night, nearly 300 shelters were open in Texas and Louisiana, with about 35,000 people spending the night. 3,760 Red Cross workers have been deployed to the disaster relief operation so far, including 30 from Northeast Ohio.
In addition to her board responsibilities, Pam is a Red Cross volunteer, and, if needed, would deploy as the assistant director for external relations on the Division Response Management Team.
Over the last ten years, Pam has been deployed around 30 times, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“I get to see the country at its worst, but people at their best.” Pam said.
Pam recalled working with Native American tribes in Montana when asked what was the most interesting thing she’s done on deployment.
“Sometimes it’s the people who have been affected that make the biggest difference. I remember a family during a storm who were offered aid. They pointed to the next family and said ‘they need it more.”
She realizes that what she does isn’t for everyone. If someone were on the fence about volunteering in a crisis, she would ask them why they wanted to do it.
“You have to have a passion for it. It’s not just about being on TV.”
There are a few things that Pam hasn’t done yet on deployment that she’d like to; “I’ve never been deployed to a wildfire. As much as you don’t want it to happen to anyone, I’d like to have that experience. I’d also like the opportunity to ride along in an ERV (emergency response vehicle).”
Pam’s a retired school teacher by trade, and even with 30 deployments under her belt, she’s not ready to kick back and enjoy retirement just yet.
“I’ll keep going as long as I believe I’m contributing. I had two great mentors when I got started, and I’d love to mentor the folks who are coming up.”
If you would like to become a trained volunteer with the skills needed to help people affected by disasters big and small, visit our volunteer site to begin the application process. Expedited training is currently taking place throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.