Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Passion for the American Red Cross

For the past several weeks I have struggled to have the enthusiasm to come to work. I had lost my passion but not my belief in the American Red Cross mission.  As I drove to work this morning I thought of the October financials that needed to be sent to the Board Members, the questions that I needed to organize for the Regional Communication Director interviews on Friday and the financial forecast report that is due on Monday. 

Ellen Knapp, Regional Chief Executive Officer
Moments after feeling sorry for myself I saw grey smoke coming from a housing community and as I got closer the smoke was pitch black – every Red Crosser knows that black smoke is not a good sign. I called 911 as I turned into the complex and saw flames coming out of an upstairs window.  There was no one around – no neighbors, no fire department -- but I could hear the sirens of the Clovis Fire Department. 

With the sound of sirens, neighbors start to come out of their homes and their consciences were filled with the thought of the single mother and her two children who weren't at home. Clovis Fire arrived with several fire trucks and the fire was put out in a short time.  The Clovis Fire Chief was amazed to see the Regional CEO of the Red Cross standing in the street waiting to find out if our assistance was needed.  It became very evident to me that a Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) member needed to be called. Shortly after I made the call for assistance, Gary Crown arrived to start the process of helping families.

The single Mom arrived home to see her home completely destroyed, everything was gone and my heart broke as she sobbed at the sight of her children’s bedding and clothes being thrown out of the upstairs window.  At that moment Gary ushered the women into a neighbor’s home.  I sat with Gary as he comforted her, collected information and issued a Client Assitance Card for food and clothing. I was very proud to be associated with such a warm, caring and professional volunteer. 

As I left the scene I hugged the Mother- she thanked me for helping her through these first moments of horror and disbelief.  At that moment I knew she was thanking Red Cross and my passion for the Red Cross mission services was totally restored. 

I understand that my job is important to our community even if there are too many hours filled with meetings, reports and conference calls.  All of these things make me a better ambassador of the American Red Cross. As an ambassador I am able to tell my Red Cross story to donors and community partners which in turn allows Gary and all of our volunteers to give hope to families in a time of need.  I am so thankful to be a part of such a great organization that brings hope to families in our community.

Ellen Knapp
Regional CEO
American Red Cross Central Valley Region

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