By Taylor Poisall, Red Cross Public Affairs
You would never expect that Michael Pritchard and Sue Krueger met less than a week ago.
The pair of volunteers have deployed to Central California to support evacuees in shelters across Tulare County. “We’re already finishing each other’s sentences,” laughed Krueger. The pair have become fast friends.
Together, they are joined by Leo, Pritchard’s service animal. Together, they are part of the Shelter Resident Transition Team.
“Our role is to find out what roadblocks evacuees are facing and how we can assist people by connecting them to resources and assistance,” explained Pritchard. Armed with lists of local resources, hotlines and a listening ear, the team is finding creative ways to help local residents.
“My only regret in life is that I didn’t join the Red Cross sooner.”Michael Pritchard from Oregon.
Pritchard first joined the Red Cross as a blood donor. “My wife has had 4 cancers over 40 years. I wouldn’t have had those 40 years without blood donors.”
“I tried to count the years it would take to donate the amount of blood my wife received as a cancer patient. It would take a few hundred years.” He first joined the Red Cross as a Blood Donor Ambassador, then heard about Disaster Services.
Pritchard’s first Red Cross deployment was when the 2020 Oregon wildfires blazed across the state. “People showed up from all over the country to help Oregonians, so now I try to deploy as much as possible.” Now, you can find Michael and his service dog, Leo, helping people after disasters strike.
“You meet some of the best people in the volunteer deploying. We take care of people. Whoever you are, everyone in the world deserves the same amount of consideration and help,” shared Pritchard
“I absolutely love being a Red Cross volunteer. The volunteers are my family of friends.” Both Michael and his wife battled cancer. “Had it not been for my Red Cross family, I don’t know how I would have made it through a difficult year.”
Deployments are special to Krueger because “you meet people that become your lifelong friends.” Krueger is a huge fan of two things – the Red Cross and the St. Louis Cardinals. She deployed to California from Eminence, Missouri and will be helping evacuees impacted by severe flooding in Tulare County.
“There’s no other organization that I feel so passionately about. The level of trust I have in our organization. All we have to do is help people and do the mission.”Sue Krueger