When the first tornado hit Oklahoma on May 21st, Red Cross volunteers from all over the country flocked in to help. The Red Cross of West Michigan was able to deploy 26 able and willing volunteers to aid in many different areas of need.
Charlotte King was one of the 26 deployed. She worked behind the scenes of client case work, filing paperwork and running them to case workers. Charlotte was extremely impressed by the operations and advancement of the Red Cross in Oklahoma. “The DR (Disaster Relief) was handled very smoothly and efficiently,” Charlotte says. “This was the best one I’ve ever been on as far as smoothness and I’ve been on 15 deployments.”
Kevin Myers of Allegan, another deployed volunteer, worked with the actual clients in case work and was able to interact one-on-one with hundreds of clients a day. He sat down with them, assessing their situation, figuring out their needs, and distributing money as necessary. One of the main things Kevin remembers is the frustration each client had immediately after the tornado. Watching them try to literally pick up the pieces and start over was hard to watch, but he was happy he could do what he was able to for the people that deserved it most.
Kevin was given the opportunity to see where his long days of hard work were going. When one woman was granted $800, she wanted the Red Cross to see where the money was going to. “She physically escorted us through her ‘house’,” Kevin said. “We were able to see ground zero and realized how badly these people needed this money.”
While it was Kevin’s first deployment and Charlotte’s 15th, both were equally happy to help as a Red Cross worker. “It was entirely a positive experience,” said Kevin. “I’ve always had a heart for helping people. There is a huge sense of satisfaction when you find yourself able to help somebody who really needs it.”