Red Cross honors volunteers, tornado relief efforts in Oshkosh ceremony

Written by Charles Greenley of The Northwestern

When Andy Stanislawski arrived in Joplin, Mo., in May, Mother Nature’s fingerprints were everywhere.

A tornado that destroyed 8,000 homes and killed 160 people had just ripped through the city, and proof of the twister’s force was in the trees that were still standing.

“Every day it was unbelievable. Three weeks later people were still looking through their stuff to see if they could salvage something,” Stanislawski said.

Maps were worthless because all the street signs had been ruined, yet from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for nearly every day of his three-week stint volunteering for the American Red Cross, Stanislawski rode the streets of Joplin in an emergency relief vehicle, delivering hot meals to those in need.

For this and many other volunteer efforts for Red Cross, the Waupaca native won the Exceptional Volunteer Service Award for Disaster Services at a ceremony held at The Waters in Oshkosh Tuesday night.

The program, titled “Celebration of Support,” honored local Red Cross volunteers. Plaudits such as the prestigious Clara Barton Honor Award were given out, and corporate partners were recognized.

Joyce Petit of Berlin has seen a lot of carnage in 27 years as a volunteer for Red Cross.

Petit worked at a service center in Joplin, handing out backpacks, phone cards and personal care kits to locals whose homes had suffered significant damage.

As about 100 attendees ate sandwich rolls and grilled peppers before the ceremony began, Petit praised the organization she had served for so long.

“They take care of you so you can take care of the victims,” Petit said.

Instead of tooting his own horn for all the work he’s done for Red Cross, Stanislawski opened up a letter a three-year-old girl from Shamokin, Penn., wrote him.

After she gave thanks to Stanislawski for everything he did to help locals deal with Hurricane Irene this summer, the last line simply said, “You are a hero to me.”

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