By Cassylee Mead
Edited by Nancy Waddell
“I cried every single day, but I went back,” Dolores Anderson (Dee) said as she choked back tears. The Red Cross volunteer from Snohomish County was talking about the Washington Landslide that rocked Oso and the surrounding communities to their core. Dee has been to North Carolina, California and Eastern Washington on national deployments. However, the Washington Landslide was the disaster that affected her the most in her four years as a volunteer.
Dee spoke of the landslide, as well as other volunteer experiences for the Red Cross saying:
“When I started with the Red Cross, they told me so many things. They told me how to be a good Red Cross responder. How to open a shelter, run a shelter, close a shelter. Feed a hundred people, feed five hundred people. Drive an Emergency Response Vehicle, do CPR and first aid, etc, etc. But what I want to talk about now is what they DID NOT tell me.
They DID NOT tell me how my heart would feel the first time a stranger hugged me for giving them a sandwich and a cup of coffee.
They DID NOT tell me how awesome it is to see strangers from all across the nation come together, work long, hard, volunteer hours, simply to help other strangers.
They DID NOT tell me about staff shelters. Fifteen women in a high school physics room trying to sleep on those infamous cots! About the late night giggles, the stories told and the friendships made. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world.
They certainly DID NOT tell me how my world would change when the March 22, 2014 Oso mudslide showed all of us in a heartbeat just how fragile we are, and how important it is to hold tight and love hard because tomorrow is not promised.
And lastly, they DID NOT tell me that through each and every one of these experiences I would gain so much more for myself than I could ever hope to repay.
That is why I volunteer for the Red Cross.”
The beauty Dee finds in volunteering is the way it fills her heart with joy even in the midst of destruction and despair. She went back every day during the landslide because she knew people needed help.
Dee now stresses preparedness to family and community after being involved with a disaster so close to home. When she realized there was no current emergency plan within her neighborhood, she simply invited everyone over so they could make one.
People in communities near and far are affected by disasters every day. When they are, the Red Cross deploys volunteers from it’s local and national ranks. They are the heart and soul of the American Red Cross and none of the lifesaving work performed could be done without dedicated volunteers.
Volunteers, just like Dee.
For more information on how you can help those affected by disaster, please visit: http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer