Volunteer Spotlight: Anne Isenhart

Anne I In 2013, Anne Isenhart was representing the Red Cross at an event in Bellingham when her husband called to tell her that their daughter was in the hospital after falling out of a second-story window. Anne didn’t want to abandon the newly trained volunteer at her side, but her manager, who happened to be at the event, insisted she go and take care of her family. Anne’s daughter was airlifted to Harborview in Seattle. While she recovered, Anne took a break from her role coordinating speakers, and her colleagues at the Red Cross gave her the time and support she needed. One even came to her house to look after her kids so Anne could rest for a few hours. Her colleagues’ help embodied the heart of the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. “My family was a priority, and they understood that,” Anne says. “They took care of me. That’s what I love the most about being a Red Cross volunteer—it doesn’t stop when I walk out the door. They’re invested in me as a person.” For Anne, it’s a relief to work with an organization that understands that its employees and volunteers are only human—especially after a career in the airline industry, where there was no room for mistakes. She’s even able to bring one of her two small children with her when she comes to the office. As for that frightening day when her daughter was injured, Anne now uses the story in her preparedness presentations, encouraging people to keep toiletries and a change of clothes in their vehicles. “I was in a jean skirt and flip flops, and I didn’t have any extra clothes in my car. I didn’t know I was going to be staying the night in Seattle….You never know what the day holds.” Anne got started at the Red Cross after meeting Stacy Rice, formerly the Emergency Services director for the Mt. Baker chapter, during an aviation drill for an airline out of the Bellingham airport. Stacy and other Red Cross volunteers made a strong impression on Anne, and when she left the airline, she turned to the Red Cross as a way to stay engaged in her community. Four years later, Anne now serves as the preparedness lead for her chapter. She teaches the Pillowcase Project, a youth-based program that helps kids get out of the house in a hurry during an emergency. Through the Speaker’s Bureau, Anne teaches people how to give presentations on preparedness for organizations. She’s also working to expand preparedness programs into Spanish-speaking communities. One of her favorite events to work is the annual Real Heroes Celebration in Bellingham. This Red Cross fundraising event allows people in the community to nominate someone who’s done something extraordinary in the course of their daily lives, like a Birch Bay woman who performed CPR on a man who collapsed next to her in the supermarket. Anne says of the event, “I always walk away from it with that warm, fuzzy, goosebump feeling that there are people in the world who do really awesome things. This is how we see our classes and trainings and programs being put into action within the community.” Anne’s message for other volunteers is simple: “The Red Cross will take as much or as little as you’re willing to give. It might not seem like a lot to the volunteer, but it’s huge and so appreciated by other volunteers and staff.” Story by Tiffany Koenig

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