By Emily Thornton
They wanted to get away from it all, as they have for the last four years on their trip to San Patricio, Mexico — but found themselves in the familiar position of helping people in need.
American Red Cross volunteers Terry and Mona Glant of Belfair, WA dedicate much of their time to the organization since retiring as air traffic controllers. He, for about five years and she, about 10.
Mona said her journey began with her local Disaster Action Team. But Terry would often fret, especially when she deployed at night, so she decided to fix the problem.
“I would tell him, ‘Please, just go with me on this one call,’” she said. ‘”Then, you won’t have to worry about me.’”
Soon Terry was hooked too, and the couple, both age 55, began helping with DAT together. Before long, they were responding as caseworkers to bigger disasters for longer periods, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, and flooding in Kentucky and Indiana. They also deployed to help after tornadoes tore apart Alabama in 2011. They said they’re usually away from home about a month each time, and only go when there’s a need for both of them.
“We’re blessed we have the time to deploy for months at a time,” Mona said. “And I think we get so much more than we give. No, I know we get more than we give. I know that may sound selfish, but it’s true.”
During their annual trip to Mexico this year, they stopped at a mechanic in Cihuatlán to get their motorcycles serviced. Lo and behold, some local Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) volunteers were also there for vehicle maintenance. A brief chat revealed the local chapter’s headquarters, just across the street. So the Glants popped in “just to say, ‘hello.’”
Workers told them about a fundraiser happening that night to raise money for automated external defibrillators (AEDs), because the closest ones were miles away. They went on to explain that the Cihuatlán population consists primarily of retired Canadians, vacationing for months at a time, and locals, many of whom were in ill health. The new AEDs would go in buildings open 24/7, Terry said, so anyone could access them at any time.
Of course the Glants offered to help. That night at a local restaurant, the Red Cross held an art auction, a raffle drawing, and raised pesos by selling meal tickets benefitting the Red Cross. One of the coordinators had trouble translating the happenings from Spanish to English for the tourists and snowbirds, Terry said, so the couple helped with the language barrier.
Although the Red Cross workers in Mexico are extremely passionate and work hard, they run across problems when trying to raise money, Mona said.
“They’re extremely proud and tight-knit with their families,” Mona said. “They’re too proud to knock door-to-door, asking for money. But, the Red Cross workers do a really great job. They’re really great people.”
She added the Mexican Red Cross’s mission is a bit different from the American, in that it focuses a lot on providing medical care, such as prescriptions and vaccines.
At the fundraiser, the couple said they helped convince people, especially the snowbirds or tourists, how they would benefit from having AEDs. “We told them, ‘This could save your life.’”
“For us, it was wonderful,” Mona said of helping the local Red Cross. “It was like a party on the beach,” Terry added.
By the time they left the event, Mona said the Red Cross had raised about 40,000 pesos, or $2,000, in one of the fundraising games, but knew more money would come. She and Terry won one of the drawings, and donated their earnings right back to the Mexican Red Cross.
The Glants are back at home in Belfair now, having had a relaxing and more meaningful than usual vacation in Mexico. Of course they plan to continue working with the Red Cross at home, in disaster relief, and wherever they’re needed.
“It’s the most rewarding thing you can do,” Mona said.