Sister Act

by Dave Wagner, Public Affairs Volunteer

Sisters Sally McCalla and Marion Chappell live on properties next to each other in the Sierra Nevada community of Lush Meadows. When the fast-moving Oak Fire bore down on their neighborhood, they evacuated together to the Red Cross shelter at the Mariposa Elementary School.

Vacationing in the greater Yosemite area since 1960, Sally and her husband decided to make it their permanent home in 2001. When her husband passed away, she remained in the forest, trying she says, to be that strong mountain woman living alone.

Being a close knit family, sister Marion, when she retired after a long career at Rocketdyne, bought the ten acre property next to her sister. The love, help and companionship they provide each other, along with plenty of visits from kids and grandkids, has enabled them to enjoy their golden years in comfort.


Sally is no stranger to Red Cross shelters. She has been evacuated before and she said, “the Red Cross people were wonderful. They make you feel like you belong.” For this reason, she has been a long time donor to the Red Cross mission and cause.

Marion also, is no stranger to Red Cross shelters. She has been a volunteer nurse for the charitable organization for more than 50 years. She started out teaching baby care courses when her daughter was born and then taught CPR classes. She has deployed to Louisiana for floods, Florida for hurricanes and all over California for wildfires.

“The main thing about Red Cross workers is how caring they are.”

Being a known commodity, Marion was immediately enlisted to help out at the Mariposa shelter. Without hesitation, she donned a Red Cross vest and went to work. Both sisters quickly became pillars of their new found shelter community, lending a helping hand or a sympathetic ear. They even stepped up to the microphone numerous times to tell the nation and the world about the good work the Red Cross is doing.

Watching her sister bounce around the dining area of the shelter, Sally mused, “the volunteers are so devoted to the others, they are on the go all day long. The main thing I think about Red Cross workers is how caring they are.”

You don’t have to be evacuated by a disaster to become a Red Cross volunteer. If you like being with people and helping others, visit the Red Cross website for an opportunity near you.

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