In September 2008 Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast, destroying almost everything in its path. Twenty-something Shelly Walden, a disaster volunteer with the Central Georgia Chapter in Macon, deployed to shelters in the hurricane-ravaged areas.
After the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike, Red Cross shelter staff management consult with local law enforcement officials to ensure the safety of its shelter residents.
Photo by Gene Dailey, American Red Cross.
At shelters set up in Spring and Galveston, Texas, Walden helped provide relief and assistance to those who had been displaced from their homes.
Walden observed that the time to help staff the shelters coincided perfectly with her schedule at that time. She mused that it was a good thing she hadn't committed herself to something else, because "once I started to work at a regular job, I might not have this opportunity for a while."
Walden recalled that the workers would ask the shelter residents about anything that would help speed them toward recovery. Red Cross staff and volunteers made it a point to greet people by name, ask how their day was going, inquire about family and friends or even ask what book they were reading. She learned that true compassion had no price, and worked tirelessly to alleviate the depression that the shelter residents were vulnerable to by stressing that better days were on their way.
Walden says one of her most memorable moments was helping a couple that had been living in their car until they found the Red Cross shelter. The young man was especially grateful for the compassionate assistance Red Cross workers provided, and profusely thanked everyone for their willingness to travel across state lines to help virtual strangers.
Helping others is why Walden volunteers. Walden remembers when she was displaced by a disaster when she was young. She said, "the Red Cross came to our aid, and helped my family get back on its feet." When she became older, Walden became a Red Cross volunteers so she could in turn help others. "It was only right that when I began looking for an organization to volunteer for, I chose the American Red Cross," she commented.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.