Why I Support the Red Cross: Jen’s Story

We have a great group of people Running for the Red at this year’s Fifth Third River Bank Run! One of these is former Red Cross AmeriCorps member, Jen, and when asked why she supports the Red Cross, she had an inspiring story to share:

The Red Cross has touched my family. Aside from the obvious – my service through AmeriCorps – my first experience with the Disaster services side of things happened Memorial Day weekend, 2005.

My sister, Holly, was living in Detroit in a small, single family home. It was just her and my nephew. It was a cute house, and Holly had just furnished everything the way she wanted it. Memorial Day weekend, she decided to come home to Jackson to visit some friends. My mom was going to bring her back on Monday, but Holly decided to stay the night and my mom would take her straight to work Tuesday morning.

An electric problem with the refrigerator started a fire during the night and by 7:00 that morning, it was engulfed in flames. With the layout of the house, my nephew’s (who was only 2 at the time) room was on one side of the house and Holly’s room was across the hall and connected to the kitchen wall. Holly would’ve been able to get outside, but she never would’ve been able to go across the hall to get my nephew.

If they had gone home that night, either my nephew or both of them would have died. Holly’s neighbors tried calling her that morning, but for whatever reason, she didn’t get their calls. Holly knew nothing about the fire and at 5:30, when she came home from work, she saw everything she owned burned to the ground. When she talked to the fire department, they asked her if she wanted help from the Red Cross.

I was living in Grand Rapids at this time, but when she told me that the Red Cross gave her $300 to buy clothes and food and put them up in a hotel, my first thought was, “The Red Cross? They do that??” I had no idea. Like most people, my impression of the Red Cross was CPR classes and blood drives. But aside from being thankful that Holly decided to stay an extra night, I was very thankful that Red Cross provided her with immediate assistance after the house fire. Maybe that’s why I became interested in volunteering with this great organization. It’s great to see people come together and support us after a large-scale tragedy – the support for Haiti and Chile have been amazing – but it’s the work we do in our own communities that inspires me the most. It’s important for me (probably because I work in Health and Safety services) to stress the “prevention and preparedness” pieces of our mission because you just never know. The small decisions we make everyday can sometimes save our lives, but so can a big one, like registering for a CPR class.

[Photo credit: American Red Cross]


2 responses to “Why I Support the Red Cross: Jen’s Story

  1. They’re always there in times of trouble. They did a lot for people over here in the 1990s when we had a few hurricanes that hit close together.

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