Volunteers – The Lifeblood of the Red Cross

National Volunteer Week  – Spotlighting Red Cross Volunteers: Pam Williams

By Pat Kunklier, Red Cross Board Member and Communications Volunteer

Volunteers help neighbors in need and carry out more than 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross.

Pam

Pam Williams, a Red Cross national disaster volunteer and chairperson of the board of trustees of the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties, said that at national disasters “we are seeing the country at its worst, but people at their best.”

Pam cited a mother who had just lost everything she owned in a flood, staying in a shelter and with no idea where the next home might be for her and her family. But this mother pointed across the room to another group of people and asked that they be helped first because “they can use the help more.”

Pam said, “When I see this kind of spirit it puts a lot of things in perspective.”

She added, “If we can do anything to make the situation even a little less stressful, frightening, hopeless for people who really are having the worst days of their lives, how can we not feel blessed to have been given the opportunity.”

If you’re not already a Red Cross volunteer, please:

  • Volunteer at local or national fires, floods and other disasters. Disaster volunteers provide comfort and care, using Red Cross resources to help victims with food, clothing, shelter and more. Red Cross provides volunteer disaster training.
  • Become a health and safety instructor. With Red Cross training, you could teach CPR and other life-saving skills.
  • Donate blood. Save lives with your blood donation.

To volunteer, please complete an application at redcross.org/neo. Visit the “Volunteer” link. You’ll first be asked to create a Red Cross ID.

Thank you for your generosity.

Volunteer Provides Leadership at Many Levels

Some of us plan barbecues and college football watch parties on Labor Day Weekend.

Not Pam Williams.

Pam2

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.