Betsy Wittohn (left) recruited her own sister Ginny Bear (right) to become a Red Cross volunteer

Why I Volunteer: Betsy Wittohn 

I started volunteering in October 2017, after the Tubbs Fire tore through Santa Rosa, CA, where I live. It burned 5,000 homes, but thankfully, not ours.   

My husband, Andy, and I saw that Red Cross needed volunteers, so we started by sorting through donations, building disaster kits, and providing transportation, before eventually joining the casework team. We haven’t looked back. I continue to volunteer by doing casework and disaster response because I really like interacting with clients. 

The Red Cross mission really fits me, and I feel privileged to be able to provide support and comfort when people are having some very difficult times. 

Currently, I’m a volunteer partner to our Disaster Program Manager. I am an active disaster responder. I’ve deployed within our division and across the country to Disaster Response Operations for floods, fires, a tornado, and a hurricane.  

One of my recent and rewarding deployments was in November 2021, supporting the Western Washington Floods. It was a pleasure meeting and working with the strong volunteers and staff of the Northwest Region. One “newer” volunteer in particular… read on:  

Why I Volunteer: Ginny Bear 

My “big” sister Betsy Witthohn has been telling great stories about volunteering with the Red Cross for the past few years. She’s traveled all over the U.S., most recently in the aftermath of the Kentucky tornado. Late last year (2021), I finally decided to join her, when severe flooding north of Seattle brought her closer to my home. 

My intention was to support her by suggesting where she could find a good rain hat or boots, or maybe treat her to lunch on the way from the airport. 

She had something else in mind and suggested I sign up officially on the Red Cross website.  

Together with my husband Chuck Sanders (who didn’t want to be left behind on this new adventure); we volunteered to help out at a shelter for one day. We swept floors, visited with shelter residents, and moved boxes. It was satisfying work.  

My previous volunteer work was on hold indefinitely because of the pandemic. But being a healthy person in retirement, I wanted to DO something! Red Cross suddenly looked like a solution for my energy. 

Currently, I am training to be a Blood Drive Ambassador, and have already spent a full shift shadowing that position, with my first drive on my own scheduled soon. 

“I enjoy volunteering with the Red Cross because you can see the results right in front of you.” 

Ginny Bear

Join Betsy and Ginny! Become a Red Cross volunteer: redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer

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