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For information about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcrossdfw.org or call Reyna at 214-678-4714.

 

When neighborhood resident Linda Mitchell saw Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana, she wanted to help.

She drove to the local chapter of the American Red Cross and found a line out the door of other people wanting to volunteer. She stayed and filled out an application. A few days later, she went through a quick training to be able to work at the shelter in Reunion Arena.

“Katrina hit on a Monday, and I was working in a shelter on Saturday,” Mitchell says. “I had never thought about being a Red Cross volunteer before that.”

She worked as a mass care manager, coordinating people there to serve the clients. Her employer, Hewlett Packard, let her take time off to volunteer. She would leave her job and work at the shelter from 3 p.m. to about midnight. She did this for three days a week for five weeks, helping evacuees of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“What the shelters’ residents were dealing with and feeling and going through was so much worse than anything I could go through because I was tired,” Mitchell says. “I felt I could contribute to making the day better for them. It was more important than anything in my personal life.”

Since then, Mitchell has undergone additional training with the Red Cross, and says she is ready to help if a shelter has to be opened because of another disaster. And she hopes other neighborhood residents will join her in being prepared.

“When [Red Cross] trains you, you are trained for anything, anywhere,” Mitchell says. “The training is interesting and inspiring. It makes you want to do more.”

The American Red Cross has partnered with the City of Dallas for the “Be Red Cross Ready” campaign, recruiting volunteers to help run shelters during a disaster. David Reyna, an AmeriCorps member working with the Red Cross on the campaign, says to work at a shelter, a volunteer needs about nine hours of training.

Before Katrina, the largest shelter run by the local Red Cross could accommodate about 200 people a week, Reyna says. After Katrina and Rita, about 24,000 people were sheltered in Dallas. The Red Cross and City of Dallas had about two days to prepare a shelter, and part of that included training volunteers in a short amount of time.

The Red Cross would like to have volunteers ready to go when a disaster hits. Over the next few months, Reyna will offer training in our neighborhood for potential shelter volunteers.

Mitchell says the Red Cross does more than she ever realized.

“I think it woke me up about what a 24-hour-a-day treasure the Red Cross is,” Mitchell says. “Now I understand, and I’m so in awe of that. There are people out there every night helping their neighbors with a Red Cross vest on.”


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