Tornado Damage Hits Close to Home to One Member of our Red Cross Family

Guest Blog Post: Rick Parks, American Red Cross of Northeast WI Boardmember and President & CEO of Society Insurance

While all of us involved with Red Cross feel a sense of loss and empathy when we see disasters like this occur sometimes we have a more personal connection that makes us feel even stronger about supporting an organization that helps others in their time of need.

My path to living and working in Wisconsin was a journey that started as I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana and then spent most of my early adult life beginning my career in Illinois.  Going back 15 years I would make a sales swing through Harrisburg, Illinois about every six weeks.  In spite of it being a small city a little off the beaten path it was a favorite of mine, because everyone you met there were “good people.”  To see that town utterly destroyed with such a loss of life was an emotional experience.  But this past week brought all of that even closer to home -literally.

I grew up in Clark County, Indiana. Henryville, which was essentially erased as a town, is about 15 miles from my family home. I played many high school basketball games at Henryville High School, as they were a conference rival.  The village of Marysville, Indiana was noted to be “gone,” and that little curve on the highway was only five miles from my hometown.  The community center that was destroyed there (along with every home in the village) had been the K-3 two-room school where many of my future high school classmates started their school experience.

Tornado Damage: Chelsea, Indiana

The even smaller village of Chelsea, Indiana, where four people lost their lives, was only four miles up Highway 62 from where I grew up. My late parents shifted their church affiliation to the now destroyed Baptist Church in Chelsea when a beloved pastor took a position there.With Facebook and other social media pepole like me who have made something of a journey of life can still keep up with those who were important in their past. Within a few hours you can account for your close friends and family and get the news on who lost what. The people of small towns like Harrisburg, Henryville, Marysville and Chelsea also take care of their own on an incredible scale.  Many familes will come together under the remaining roof they have and live as one while they rebuild. But even in small town America not everyone has that available to them.  Many people need the care that an organization like Red Cross can offer immediately after a disaster, but some will need ongoing assistance. Knowing that Red Cross can be there to help if needed gave me peace as these very personal disasters unfolded in the media and with contact from friends and family back in Illinois and Indiana.

My thanks to all of you for being a part of Red Cross. You make a difference in people’s lives.

Rick Parks

Tornado damage: Henryville, Indiana

Tornado Damage - Marysville, Indiana

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