By Christin Newlon, Red Cross Volunteer
Red Cross Volunteer, Miller Newlon, is a long way from his Paso Robles home.
Having served in health services during Hurricane Katrina, Miller was eager to volunteer again with the American Red Cross upon his retirement. Seventeen years later, he is in Fort Myers, Florida as a Disaster Health Services Supervisor caring for people impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Miller and his Disaster Health Services team is comprised of 31 RN, LPN and CNAs tasked with providing medical support in a shelter with over 500 hurricane survivors. This work includes assessing first-line medical needs, creating a 911 rapid triage team, developing a transport plan to get patients to Red Cross medical shelters, setting up COVID-19 testing and isolation wards, assessing for pre-existing conditions, building an infection prevention and control plan and much more.
“Our job is really tough. Sometimes it’s really complex and hard to feel successful, but it’s important to be positive about things. So I developed the Client High Five. I ask my team to have three positive client interactions per day which I call the “Client High Five.” Simple interactions such as helping a shelter resident move a box, setting up a bed, retrieving something from the medical tent, or getting a porta potty located closer to someone who is unable to walk to the bathroom at night.” These interactions make a major impact on the comfort of people who have spent the last three weeks in a shelter.
Miller says it is important for him to always feel a connection with the shelter residents. “The humility of giving time, services, a hand, a smile, a conversation warms the heart as well as the hearts of those who receive it. We never understand the true impact of giving as it is understood from the resident’s perspective. Perhaps they share a thank you, shake your hand, hold your hand longer when shaking to really say thank you, and/or smile to show their gratitude. Each act is as important as the next.”
Miller says the connections with the shelter residents are what makes you work harder. George was one of those special connections for Miller. A man of few words, George lost his house, his belongings and his phone in the hurricane. George never complains. He just tells Miller thanks for the help and gives him a heartfelt hard handshake held while looking into Miller’s eyes saying, “Thank you, Miller.” Miller says that’s all that is needed.
Thank you to Miller and his team of health services volunteers who are making a difference in the lives of those we serve. They join more than 2,500 Red Cross disaster workers from across the country that are supporting these Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
YOU CAN HELP people affected by Hurricane Ian by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word IAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters.
You can also join Miller in making a difference for people during times of emergency. Learn what volunteer positions are urgently needed and apply today: redcross.org/volunteertoday.