It is hard to believe that it has been almost one year since I arrived in the Central Valley Chapter to serve as the Executive Director. I am so thankful to all of you. You have made my first year in Fresno better than I could ever have imagined. The warmth and kindness you have all shown has made me feel right at home, and made the transition from Alaska very easy.
As we approach the end of Volunteer Appreciation Week, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. You are amazing and wonderful and I thank God every day to be a part of a group of people that are so incredibly unselfish and caring. When I started with the American Red Cross almost six years ago, I had no idea that I would be part of a group of people that would show me the true depth of human kindness.
My first real glimpse of the dedication of Red Cross volunteers was when I went on a home fire call on Christmas with another staff member. It was Alaska, so it was cold, at least minus 30 degrees, and the family was huddled in their running car, in their pajamas, trying to stay warm while they watched their home burn. We took them to a safe place and proceeded to provide Red Cross services.
Fast forward to the following week and our Lead DAT volunteer came into the office to kindly, but firmly let me know that I should not have gone on that call, volunteers go on calls as first choice. I remember being surprised because it was Christmas and the staff and I felt like we should not take volunteers from their families on Christmas. She kindly let me know that is WHY they volunteer, to help people when they need it most, and that from now on we needed to let volunteers take the call.
That conversation opened my eyes and showed me how amazing Red Cross volunteers are, ingraining in my heart the belief that Red Cross volunteers are truly the best volunteers in the world. You are willing to get up in the middle of the night to help, you are willing to leave your family celebrations to help, you are willing to leave your lives behind for weeks at a time to help, you are willing to spend your evenings on the phone after a long day at work to help military members and their families…you are willing to give a piece of your heart to make someone’s worst day just a little bit better.
The second time I was shown how much the work you do means was when I went to the electric company to get power turned on for our new office in Fairbanks. I was wearing a Red Cross jacket and the young woman behind the counter asked if I worked for Red Cross. When I said that yes, I was the Executive Director, she teared up and said, “thank you, the Red Cross helped bring my husband home from Iraq when his mother passed away.”
While I didn’t make that happen, I was honored to represent you, the volunteers, that make those moments happen every single day!
There are so many moments like these that remind me how lucky I am.
I have said it more times than I can count, the worst day at the Red Cross is still the best place I have ever been…and that is because of you. You show me every day what it means to serve and for that, I will be forever grateful!
I know we are not able to get together in person right now and that we have had to change how we deliver our mission. You have shown the true Red Cross spirit in how you have adapted…once again I am humbled by your generosity of spirit. I hope you are all doing well and look forward to seeing you in person very soon.
Thank you once again. You are amazing!
Lori Wilson, Central Valley Chapter Executive Director