By: Anna Hiatt
Edited by: Nancy Waddell
Photos by: Nashika Stanbro
As the Disaster Action Team (DAT) Coordinator for the Red Cross Serving Snohomish County, volunteer Kelli Thode has first-hand knowledge of the motto “Sleeves up, hearts open, all in!”
Prior to becoming a DAT volunteer, she attended the chapter’s Real Heroes Breakfasts, and met several volunteers and staff members. “I was impressed with the Red Cross response to local disasters and wanted to personally support that beyond just monetary donations,” said Thode.
As the Snohomish County DAT coordinator, Kelli’s job includes welcoming people interested in DAT and training them. She sets schedules, keeps track of the on-call teams, and responds to local disasters like home fires. She also tracks fellow DAT members’ training, staying up to date on all DAT procedures, and is frequently on call as an adviser. Kelli has even represented the DAT program at Chapter Leadership and Regional meetings.
In speaking about a recent experience, Kelli said “I went to help with that large commercial fire response in Lynnwood a couple of months ago that displaced people from several surrounding apartment buildings. It was so big that we had to open a shelter, and people were already sleeping there when I arrived to help early that morning.”
Later that evening she was looking through the list of people who had signed into the shelter, and recognized two names. “They were my grandpa’s longtime friends, and sure enough here comes one of them in the middle of the night to use the restroom… in her robe and slippers! She’s over 90!” Kelli was amazed that “she was sleeping on a cot in our Red Cross shelter, and was still in a pretty good mood considering the situation she was in. So thankful! It made me happy that we were able to provide her and her neighbors a safe place to stay during that crazy time. That feels good!”
Kelli’s day job is working for Paul Davis Restoration (https://pauldavis.com), a company that provides professional residential and commercial emergency restoration services for disasters, and has been a long-time donor and supporter of the Snohomish County Red Cross. Kelli offers free emergency clothes cleaning so that disaster victims have some of their own clothing to wear within 24-48 hours of a disaster.
“It’s a natural fit for me to give back to the community in this way,” says Kelli, “and hopefully create a positive reputation for my company in doing so!”
After four years of volunteering, Kelli continues to enjoy her volunteer time, building the DAT function and interacting with fellow volunteers. This summer she is on track to join the Board of the American Red Cross serving Snohomish County.
“I hope to be a positive representative as a Red Cross volunteer by sharing my own experiences and encouraging others to get involved as well,” Kelli said.
“Her contributions as a volunteer, ongoing advocacy and personality will make her a great addition to our board,” said Chuck Morrison, chapter executive director, “we know she will continue to be an enthusiastic representative of the American Red Cross.”
In the meantime, Kelli wants residents of Snohomish County to know that “If you have a disaster-related emergency and you need help, one of our DAT Teams is always on call and will come talk to you. It’s nice to have someone there to help answer questions and discuss a recovery plan.”
To reach Red Cross in an emergency, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcross.org.