By Hailie Duenkel, Volunteer
In 2017, Hurricane Irma swept through the Atlantic – one of the strongest storms in the past century. The catastrophic storm ranked as a category 5 and displaced nearly 40,000 residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kim, a 12-year Red Cross veteran, describes this experience volunteering with the Red Cross as one of her most memorable. “It was very heartwarming. Without the Red Cross coming in, I think many of these people would have died.”
When Kim and fellow Red Cross volunteers arrived, the community shelter was in the care of the county. The community volunteers weren’t equipped to adequately take care of the residents. Babies had dirty diapers, people were hungry, and desperate local residents were clearing the shelter of supplies. Kim assisted the Red Cross to serve over 1.6 million meals and 1.8 million relief supplies to those in the community and provided over 555,000 overnight stays in the shelter. However, this type of extraordinary experience is common for Kim, who has held multiple positions including caseworker, shelter volunteer, and shelter supervisor during her tenure at the Red Cross.
Kim cherishes how the Red Cross offers a unique volunteer process that brings people from all lifestyles together for the benefit of the community. People are “completely impartial. They drop all political views, affiliations, etc.” shared Kim as she describes what the Red Cross means to her. “We love each other. I have friends I would never have met, or be friends with in real life, and here we are, thanks to the Red Cross. I have grown so much as a person from this organization.”
Kim has two adult children and currently resides in Haymarket, VA with her husband Eric. She works as a substitute teacher, allowing her to continue with her true passion of volunteering with the Red Cross. She urges people looking to volunteer to find out what they like and to try many things. The Red Cross provides numerous volunteer options that can fit what you are looking for. “Once you find that passion, it’s amazing.”
To become a Red Cross volunteer like Kim, visit redcross.org/volunteer.