Friday, March 18, 2016

My Red Cross Volunteer Story: Suni Chapman

Suni Chapman has blazed a path of extraordinary service with the National Capital Region Service to the Armed since becoming a Red Cross volunteer in January 2015. But her exposure to the Red Cross’s Service to the Armed Forces goes back to her early childhood.

She was too young to remember World War II events; but when later reading her father’s memoirs, she was struck by the many times his notes alluded to his “Red Cross parcels” and how much those parcels had meant to him and his fellow prisoners of war. Sub Lt. Tom Chapman, a pilot for Britain’s Fleet Air Arm, was shot down while returning from a bombing raid in June 1943. He wrote about his experience:

“I cannot explain how important our Red Cross parcels were. To me they were nothing less than a Godsend. Not only did it contain food, but soap, sometimes toothpaste, which we ate. And hope. Some dear souls cared about us. The Red Cross could sometimes reach us when our loved ones could not. We would all give a portion of our parcels per man to our cooks. It was amazing what [the cooks] were able to produce with [the Red Cross parcel portions and] the meager ingredients of bread and broth we received from the Germans.”  

Her father’s handwritten account of his time as a POW moved Suni so much that, upon her retirement, she acted on her wish to be one of those “souls that cared.” She became a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Service to the Armed Forces. Suni supports Outreach in the National Capital Region and Volunteer Orientations for Fort Belvoir and Marine Corps Base Quantico. She also plays an active role at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and is part of the Pillowcase Project, a free, interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11.

Suni has participated in nearly 20 varied outreach events, including several deployment training programs, health and safety fairs, retiree appreciation day, military unit family events, the USO fall festival, U.S. Army annual convention/expo, Fort Belvoir full-scale disaster exercise, Red Tee golf tournament, monthly newcomers orientation and breakfast with Santa. She designed and produced presentations for use in addressing deployment training groups and general SAF outreach activities, and is currently revising the orientation presentation for prospective and new volunteers at Fort Belvoir and MCB Quantico.

Her continued willingness to help and her professional background in forensic artistry have served the Red Cross well. In all these efforts, her enthusiasm, dedication, creativity, and outstanding performance have resulted in her being recognized as a key asset for the Station.  

Suni is pictured above on the right, with fellow Service to the Armed Forces volunteer Bette Cook.

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