By Jasmine Turner
A power of a heartfelt “thank you” was something I don’t believe I fully appreciated when I began my term as an AmeriCorps member. As a Disaster Cycle Services caseworker I was learning about what the Red Cross can do to help people who had become victims of house fires or flooding, I came to understand the process for delivering assistance: a call is made, questions are asked, answers are recorded, and a promise to call again is made and delivered empathy, the next day with just as much precision and care.
At first, I felt somewhat distanced, that I might not be connecting with the client. Not being on site, where the disaster happened, would I find the same kind of attachment to their case? But then I made a discovery. It came at the end of a call, one that seemed to be like any other, the client paused and said something that made my heart sing.
“Thank you,” he said, like many other clients do. But then he went on: “Without you, I don’t know where I would be. Without the Red Cross, I don’t think I could get through this. So thank you, so much.”
And with those words, the service than can often times seem distant and removed came close to home, and meant so much more. The time you take feels genuinely more worthwhile than you could ever have anticipated and the desire to be of service to those in need skyrockets. Even in a position at a desk in the office, searching on the computer or talking on the phone, looking up the case details for a client and not out on the scene with them physically seems to fall to the wayside.
This is how I’ve settled into my role as a caseworker, impacted in ways I never thought possible. Those thank you may be few and far between, but they reach deep and depths have made me see my work in a whole new light. It made me realize that helping people overcome their roadblocks and get them to a better place—even if inadvertently—is what I wanted from my service with AmeriCorps. This is what I imagined coming into the Red Cross with fresh eyes and hopeful aspirations.