Story by Jon Breems
Members of the community have been volunteering through the American Red Cross for as long as the organization has been around. Each generation of dedicated individuals finds ways to answer the unique needs of their time. As a teenager in the late 1960s, Raene Kott of Fruitport, MI saw a need at Ferguson Hospital in Grand Rapids and decided to help. Her work likely never ended up on the front page of the newspapers or got her a spot on the evening news, and yet for the residents of Ferguson hospital Raene was a hero.
“I went in and visited with the people that were in there,” said Kott, now 65. “I just went around and asked them if they needed something.”
Raene helped deliver meals to the hospital’s residents. Often times, however, she says her job was only to sit and talk with residents who needed the simple joy of connecting with another person. She volunteered at the hospital for about two years.
Raene says she served a wide range of residents from the elderly to the very sick to disabled veterans. Interestingly, she has seen her service to veterans come full circle as her son is currently in the military and a veteran of the Iraq War.
“(The work) was interesting because of the different people all of the time,” she added. “It was a very easy thing to do for the people.”
Sometimes it’s the seemingly “easy” work of Red Cross volunteers that can be the most important.