By Dan Santos, American Red Cross Volunteer
Now and then, Red Cross volunteers take an indirect path to helping others in need. Bill Beebe was thirsty.
He was in Florida in 2020 for his grandmother’s funeral. “I went to the store and there was a display next to the 12-packs of Mountain Dew for Team Rubicon (the disaster relief organization).”
Beebe said Team Rubicon was looking for volunteers to help hurricane victims in Florida and Texas. Team Rubicon recruits veterans to continue their service by using their skills and experience to aid others experiencing crises. Beebe, 36, a U.S. Navy veteran, joined up.
Later that same year, Beebe, a Visalia resident, became involved with the American Red Cross. This time it was a local newspaper story about California wildfires that attracted his attention. He said it was a welcome distraction after just losing his job and decided to help.
“I knew doing something useful for others kind of keeps your mind off things,” he said. “Thats how my mother and grandmother raised me.”
Less than two years into his Red Cross service, Beebe is a disaster responder and a logistics lead in Tulare and Kings counties. He’s also active with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces as a family contact and card caseworker. He helped connect families displaced by several especially destructive California wildfires- the Creek fire in 2020, and in 2021 the Windy and SQF Complex fires to safe shelter.
“Helping out with the Red Cross kind of woke something up in me…”
“I had been working security jobs for about eight years and I was kind of burnt out.” Beebe is still involved with Team Rubicon while volunteering with the Red Cross. He juggles those commitments with his current job as a courier with the Central California Blood Center in Visalia. “I guess I could be sitting home playing video games and watching TV,” he said, but he finds satisfaction as a Red Cross volunteer.
Kaytlin Crough, the Red Cross disaster program manager for Tulare and Kings counties, said Beebe is “an invaluable member of the team.” She describes him as “always interested in doing more and serving the mission.”
“Bill is always fun to work with,” Crough said. “He’s willing to step in where needed, and he definitely knows more about the Marvel Universe than anyone I know. We’re lucky to have him as a part of our team.”
Beebe is aiming to be deployed to Red Cross disaster response scenes around the country this year. He said he was fortunate that the blood bank allows its employees to spend extended time away from work for volunteer activities. “That wasn’t allowed at my other jobs,” he said. “The blood bank’s HR department and my new boss had no problem with it.” That flexibility allows him to volunteer when it’s needed most.
After his Navy stint ended in 2010, Beebe and his wife, Angelica, also a Navy veteran, decided to relocate from Norfolk, VA, to be closer to her relatives in Visalia. He also finds support at home: “My wife understands what I do and why I enjoy it.”
You can join these local heroes in their commitment during our Red Cross Month celebration by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation, become a Red Cross volunteer or take a class to learn lifesaving skills like CPR and first aid. With a donation on March 23, you’ll also be part of our annual Giving Day campaign (redcross.org/givingday) to help provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and other assistance for people affected by disasters big and small.