By Tiffany Koenig
For almost 40 years, Judy Holz and her husband, Howard, operated a dairy farm north of Bellingham. As they neared retirement, Judy began looking for ways to serve her community and became interested in the Red Cross when they inquired about using her church as an emergency shelter location. Now, after 12 years as a Red Cross volunteer, her motivation is the same as it was then: “The Red Cross allows me to help people who need help right at the time that they need it.”
Over the years, Judy has served as an instructor, disaster chair, and deputy director for Disaster Cycle Services of Northwest Washington. In February, she took a position as Mass Care lead, organizing shelter teams and making sure they understand what to do as soon as they get the call. Like most volunteers, though, Judy wears many different hats. “We have our titles and our activities, but most of us will do whatever we’re asked to do,” she says. Judy especially enjoys teaching disaster courses at her chapter in Bellingham. “I love to see other people learn how to help others.”
Through the years, Judy has traveled to 14 national-level disasters, each with its own personality. These deployments offer the chance to meet clients and coworkers from across the country and bring back valuable information to her home chapter. But she also gains satisfaction from helping people closer to home. “There’s nothing like being there right at the time when people need you after an event like a single-family fire,” she says. “When you’re called around midnight and people are just standing around not knowing where to go or what do to, and you’re there to say, ‘I can help you tonight and give you a place to stay’—that’s something that gets repeated over and over.”
Sometimes those who need assistance are emergency responders themselves. After the Skagit River Bridge collapsed, Judy joined other local Red Cross volunteers to provide food for the police, DOT investigators, and responders working to rescue people from the river. She also met with officials at the local emergency operations center to discuss what else the Red Cross could do.
It’s all a far cry from dairy farming. But it certainly keeps her busy and involved with the north Puget Sound community.
Judy is also a watercolor artist. In her downtime, she travels with her husband around Washington and to Wyoming to visit family, often taking her paints and brushes with her. Painting landscapes on location helps her connect with the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.