Hope Can Make All the Difference; Executive Director Reflects on Her Kentucky Tornado Deployment

Lori Wilson, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter, recently returned from Bowling Green, Kentucky where she spent more than two weeks serving the communities devastated by the December Tornadoes.

At the Red Cross, we keep stories that impact us close to our Red Cross vests. We like to call them our Mission Moments. Lori’s mission moment from her time in Kentucky left her feeling extra thankful for all her blessings and inspired her to continue to share hope.

A family came to the assistance center while I was outside which had been closed for the New Year by the time they arrived.  One of the little boys was crying. I asked him what was wrong. He pointed to his sister and said, “she stole my notebook”  as his little sister who was maybe 5 stood there with this little angelic look.  He was about 7, and those little tears just killed me. Realizing I was holding my notebook, it took only moments to decide I didn’t need it. I tore the front few pages out that had notes on them and gave the notebook to him. You would have thought I just gave him the world, his little smile was like sunshine.

He and his family lost their home and most of their belongings. They had experienced a fear many of us will never understand as they huddled in their basement while a tornado crashed into the home above their heads, yet a simple notebook made his day. Then another fellow California volunteer who was standing with me, seeing his brother looking a little forlorn but not saying a word, took out the used pages in her notebook and handed him hers…his sweet smile made my heart melt.  Again…it is nothing more than a used notebook and yet to these children it was exactly what they wanted at that moment…to know someone sees them and cares!


“It isn’t grand acts of kindness, sometimes it is a simple notebook that can change someone’s day because it is given with love,” she explained. That moment serves as a reminder to be thankful for even the littlest thing. That one small act of kindness can make all the difference, and at the Red Cross, we all have the honor of delivering hope. Hope can make all the difference. 

It is my goal that each and every volunteer knows that they are making an impact. Every volunteer is critical to the Red Cross achieving the mission of alleviating suffering, whether you are on the frontlines or not. 

Red Cross volunteers are making a difference because they not only give their time, but share their heart as well to help others.

Lori Wilson

As we enter 2022, we are inspired by Red Cross volunteers that give their time and most importantly their hearts to their neighbors in their greatest time of need.  Please consider joining them at redcross.org.

“I felt honored and humbled when Retired Lt. Colonel Todd Acott, the Mayor of Bowling Green presented me a challenge coin, an incredible honor.

The emotion and genuine gratitude the Mayor shared on behalf of Bowling Green to our volunteers who came from all over the country was heartfelt.”

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