By Amy McCray
Edited by Nancy Waddell
This past summer the nation watched anxiously as a catastrophic flood devastated southern Louisiana. More than 31 inches of rain fell in 15 hours, producing 7.1 trillion gallons of water, three times as much as Hurricane Katrina. Over 30,000 residents were displaced and over 11,000 sought refuge in emergency shelters.
Responding to the flood, the American Red Cross deployed over 3,200 workers from all over the country to aid in relief efforts, and over 90 percent of these relief workers were volunteers.
Kris Pitcher was one who responded to the call. For five years, Pitcher has been a Major Gifts Officer at the Spokane office of the Red Cross Northwest Region, during which she has been deployed locally, helping with disasters within the region, including wildfires and the Washington landslide of 2014. Louisiana was her first major deployment outside the area.
Taking with her only what she could carry on her back, she flew into Louisiana to lead a team of fundraisers, coordinating local staff as well as those who travelled from other parts of the country to help.
She says that when she arrived she was able to use the skills that she had gained working in the Spokane office to provide structure, tools and communication, helping the team focus and work calmly and efficiently.
“I was able to put some basic things in place to better organize a team that was already doing great work,” Pitcher says.
“When working the front line you get the chance to touch the mission in action directly,” Pitcher says. “The work matters. The funds we raise matter. The people we serve matter. There are no challenges we can’t overcome to make that possible.” She says, “the reward is hope.”
Exhausted from working over 90 hours in seven days, Pitcher flew home satisfied that she had helped make a difference. “To do this work within an organization that appreciates my contribution, recognizes my talents, and rewards my efforts is a huge bonus,” she added.