Red Cross communications volunteer Patrick Wilson goes behind the scenes to talk with volunteers across the Cascades Region to learn about their Red Cross work and how they got involved with the organization.
In 2010, Becky Hoffman belonged to a woman’s sorority, Beta Sigma Phi, that decided to have members join the American Red Cross as a way to best serve the community of Willamette. Like many, Becky was surprised to learn how many ways the Red Cross served the people living in her area. She was also delighted to see the parallels between her sorority’s motto, “life, learning and friendship” and the Red Cross. Since becoming a Red Cross volunteer she has served on a Disaster Action Team (DAT), facilitated client casework and worked in volunteer services staffing, supporting both local and national needs.
Like many volunteers, one of Becky’s more memorable moments with the Red Cross was when she supported a national deployment, as she did in Oklahoma during one of their severe tornado seasons. She found this assignment to be stressful but rewarding. She was working in a farming community and recounted a story about one family she assisted. Their mobile home had been knocked off the foundation and was no longer habitable. The family was concerned because they had cattle and horses that needed daily tending but the family wasn’t sure how to manage. Becky was able to secure nearby accommodations for them, as well as work through a number of sister agencies to secure help with food for their animals. The mother of the family was so delighted she returned to see Becky four days later, sweeping into the office and giving Becky a big warm hug while telling her how very much she appreciated her help.
Becky’s greatest value from volunteering is witnessing how well disaster victims can bounce back, as well as helping community members to be prepared to manage any disaster that may befall them. She really loves working with the team of people in her chapter and even takes her computer with her on vacations so she can assist with assigning volunteers if a disaster occurs while she is away from home. For Becky, volunteering means always being available and ready to respond.
Her staffing work is much like that of the Human Resources staff in a business. She makes contact with new volunteers, welcomes them to the organization, and helps them to understand the opportunities available. After clarifying their desires, she helps them to find a position that best fits their skills and interests. She also assists volunteers in completing the necessary paperwork. Besides supporting the Willamette Chapter, Becky also helps support the volunteer staffing needs of the Oregon Pacific Chapter and the Southern Oregon Chapter. Once all the processing is completed, the new volunteer is referred to the lead person for the assignment they have chosen. Becky describes herself as a “people person,” who really likes working with new volunteers. As a result, some volunteers she welcomed into the Red Cross have become close friends.