Volunteer of the Month – Floyd Duranceau

Congratulations Floyd Duranceau, the July 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

roc_blog_img_Floyd Duranceau

When July volunteer of the month, Floyd Duranceau looks back on his Red Cross service, he’s reminded of the great gifts he has been able to offer others; first through the teaching of lifesaving skills and now through the distribution of lifesaving blood.  After working as a Red Cross Health & Safety CPR Instructor for more than twenty-six years, in 2015 Floyd decided to volunteer in a new position for the Red Cross with the BioMed Transportation Program. Volunteering as a Transportation Specialist, Floyd delivers blood product to hospitals providing the vital link between donor and patient, making sure that critical blood products get delivered quickly and effectively to those in need.

In the past six months of volunteering Floyd has accumulated over eight-hundred hours of volunteer service. This level of commitment speaks to the special qualities that make Floyd an outstanding leader in this program. “Floyd has become a real asset to the transportation program. In addition to driving almost every day of the week to places as far away as Chicago Illinois, he routinely recruits new volunteers to become drivers by informing them of the need for this important service,” shares Joshua McDonnell, Blood Services Manager of Volunteer Services.

“Volunteering to me just means getting to know people, after that I feel impassioned to make their day a better one.” When asked about his favorite volunteer moments, Floyd recalls, “I’ve had a number of great moments working in the Red Cross mission. The most memorable though happened in one of the last CPR classes I taught. A gentleman near the end of the class said that he had taken many CPR classes over the years and could never wait to have them end but with my class he did not want it to end.” This clearly shows how well Floyd shares his dedication to the American Red Cross mission with others.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Floyd said he is determined to do whatever he can for others for as long as he can. Every week he commits to working an average of thirty hours with the Bloods Services transportation program all while he continues learning, training and mentoring others. To encourage others to become a volunteer with the Red Cross, Floyd emphasizes, “We just need to show people that someone cares. This may sound simple but it can change both the lives of others’ and the volunteer’s own life tremendously. You don’t need a special talent to help others; the Red Cross will train and prepare you.”

Thank you, Floyd for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

This month, consider giving someone a chance to share more joy, laughter and time with family and friends. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood transfusions are a very common medical procedure. A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States alone. Although 38 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, only 3 percent actually do. Be the change in someone’s life by donating today. For more information visit http://www.redcrossblood.org

If you are interested in joining Floyd as a Blood Services transporter of blood and blood products throughout the region in a safe and timely manner please contact us. Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

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Milwaukee Volunteer Tackles the Logistics of Disasters on Month-Long Deployment to Missouri!

By: Max Seigle

It’s a role you don’t always see in the headlines when it comes to American Red Cross disaster help. But if you ask volunteer, Phyllis Wiggins, she’ll tell you Logistics is vital to ensure clients get help.

“We get you the people, places and things you need to be successful on the operation,” Wiggins said in a recent interview with Red Cross Public Affairs.

Wiggins, of Milwaukee, spent a month helping with flood disaster relief in the St. Louis area. She left in late December and served as a Logistics Manager at the Red Cross headquarters in the city.

“If you need a 26-foot truck to load things around, Logistics gets that for you,” Wiggins said.

Requests also included more basic things, like food, bleach, gloves and comfort items for children staying at Red Cross shelters.

“We actually had to go out and make a run for coloring books and crayons,” she said.

PHYLLIS WIGGINS PICTURE(1)

Phyllis (middle) is an essential part of the Logistics team. With a motto of “Mission First”, she makes sure people are taken care of in times of need! L-R: John Trieb, Phyllis Wiggins and Megan Bessett

Wiggins said Logistics plays a big role in securing locations for shelters and assistance centers during disaster relief. She explained the Red Cross works with community partners to find places, like schools, churches and office buildings. The Red Cross also has its own technology team to equip those facilities. On her deployment to St. Louis, Wiggins said churches, especially, rose to the occasion to offer space. She was also amazed with additional support from corporate donors.

“I’ve been on some operations where people were just begging for help — just trying to dig up that big truck of stuff. Here, it was just never an issue,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins recalled one day where a fellow Wisconsin Red Cross volunteer, Megan Besset, was on the phone working to get meals for the mission. What came next was a major delivery, and all of it donated.

“All of the sudden we had food from Popeyes, White Castle, pizza, Italian…” she said.

Wiggins worked about eight to 11 hours a day on her deployment. She was even on the ground New Year’s Eve and Day.

“If you’re doing good as the year rolls over, then the year is going to be good for you,” Wiggins said.

It’s clearly “Mission First” for Wiggins. And serving behind the scenes in Logistics is a role she’s happy to take on with a humble nature.

“It’s more important that people get help, that they feel safe, that they feel taken care of,” Wiggins said.

“That is much more important than me getting a slap on the back or a Thank You.”

One small gesture…

By Julie Holly, DMH Volunteer
We sat side by side, a newly-trained female client caseworker and I, a disaster mental health volunteer, in a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. Next in line was a young survivor in his early 20’s living in a local drug recovery center, who had lost his home, his girlfriend, his vehicle, and his job, in one of California’s most devastating fires ever recorded.

I closed the door behind him as he took a seat. Shortly after he began, I reached for a bottle of water behind me, twisted off the cap, and handed it to him.  He talked and drank, cried and talked, and drank some more. For an hour, he related details of wrong turns, the long road back to sanity and sobriety, and finally the fire. We listened hard. Afterward, I asked about a sponsor, 12-step meetings, his support system.  The caseworker asked about housing plans and gave him information about government and community resources.

At the end, I gave him a blanket. I asked if he was hungry. “A little,” he admitted. I gave him a granola bar. I gave him a Disaster Distress Helpline brochure and the local crisis line number. He hugged me. He hugged her too.

“I noticed you take the cap off the water bottle” the caseworker said, after he left. “Why did you do that?”  “You saw that?” I replied, surprised. “Well, survivors under great stress easily dehydrate. When you open the bottle, it gives them ‘permission’ to drink it now rather than later.”

“Ah, good one”, she said, nodding and jotting notes. “Your eyes never left his as you took off the cap. And you sat forward when he started talking.”  I grinned. “Were you observing me the whole time?”  “Of course I was!” she laughed. “I’ve never seen anyone work in the field before. I could never do what you did.”

I looked puzzled. “But you were doing it.”  Now she looked puzzled. “What do you think he’ll remember from our interaction?” I asked. A few beats later, she responded. “I think he’ll remember how you knew so much about what he was going through.”  “I’ll bet you’re wrong,” I replied.  “I’ll bet he’ll remember next to nothing of what I said. What he’ll remember is how we both made him feel.  The water, the blanket, the snacks– there’s a good chance he’ll remember those also. But he won’t forget your calm voice, the genuine smiles, the way he was deeply listened to, the way he was treated with dignity and respect. Never underestimate the power of those simple gestures. I promise you, those things are what people remember most about the Red Cross, in the end.”

“Maybe it’s because those things look like hope.” She wrote that down, too.

I don’t know what happened to him, of course. But I know that she’s a compassionate, caring, client caseworker, yet another Red Cross hope-giver, who now twists the cap off the water bottle as she hands it to the next survivor.

Julie Holly, MSE, LPC, CCTP, is a licensed mental health professional by trade and she, serves her community and those across the country such as the South Carolina floods and California wildfires. In addition, she served on an Integrated Care Team which provides a team approach to physical, spiritual and emotional recovery after a disaster.

“You are a part of the permanent narrative of the worst day of their lives.”   Julie Holly

Volunteer of the Month – Sanya Baillie

Congratulations, Sanya Baillie the June 2016 Volunteer of the Month!
Sanya joined the Red Cross in July of 2013, seeking to find an organization that would support her efforts to directly help people affected by disaster. Previously, Sanya and her husband had been Foster Parents for fourteen years and had helped many children even adopting three wonderful children of their own.  So, when they decided not to renew their Foster Care License, Sanya began to feel a void in her life, “I have always had the desire to help others,” she explained. Looking for a new way to reach others in need, she traveled on two separate occasions on tornado relief trips under no organization affiliation. Sanya explained, “We just packed our car with donations from friends and family and headed out. It was such a moving and humbling experience.” During her time in Joplin, Missouri and Moore, Oklahoma for those relief trips Sanya befriended many Red Cross volunteers, learned more about the Red Cross mission and knew she needed to become a Red Cross volunteer.
Sanya currently volunteers in the Disaster Services department of the Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader. Nick Cluppert, the Disaster Program Manager shared, “Sanya is an extremely supportive, warm person who works well with all clients. She has an approachable and calming demeanor that is greatly admired and considered a huge asset to the team during big and small responses alike”.  Sanya is an exceptional volunteer and has become someone that can be relied on to respond in any number of situations. She has provided canteening services to area response workers including firefighters, assisted families displaced from fire and managed Direct Client casework, a process used to give supportive resources to people who need them after a disaster.  “My favorite part of volunteering is all the different people I meet and the moments when I can help them. When someone is affected by a home fire or larger disaster we often meet them at such a scary and vulnerable moment in their life, if I can be there for them and help to brighten their day, even if it’s just a little I know I’ve helped,” Sanya explains.

Her most memorable Red Cross moment was one marked by unrealized community connections. Sanya responded to a single family home fire just down the road from her own house. The house was a total loss and although everyone escaped the fire safely, they were all very shaken up. The family set up in a neighbor’s house who turned out to be a friend of Sanya’s husband from work. When talking to the family of the house fire she realized their daughters were friends with her own and went to the same Church Youth Group together. And later, when she went out to feed the Firefighters that were working the fire she realized her Uncle, who is a Volunteer Firefighter in that area, was there working the fire. Sanya emphasized, “What was a really great moment, amidst such a tragedy was realizing that we have so many wonderful people all around us who we a connection with in our community to lean on and to get through it”.

Sanya encourages others to join the Red Cross mission, “Volunteering for Red Cross has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. I never imagined how much fun volunteering would be. The relationships I have made and memories I have experienced are the best rewards I could ever receive. It’s a special thing to be there for someone who is at one of their most vulnerable and most frightening times in their life. Putting a smile on someone’s face, just to listen to them or to lend a shoulder to cry on is an amazing thing to experience. At some point in life everyone needs help, I hope we can be there for each other and continue to lend a hand to those in need.”

Thank you, Sanya for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community, we are so grateful for your continued support and work within Disaster Services!
To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer