Volunteer Donna Forbes is driven to share with others

By Katie Baneck, American Red Cross

Donna Forbes has been an American Red Cross volunteer since 1999. But her service to other people goes back much farther.

“I grew up in a family where I learned from example that no matter how little you had, you shared with those that had even less,” Forbes said.

What started as odd jobs around the office later turned into casework for the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) area of the Red Cross. Donna’s casework with the SAF began while her husband was serving in the Reserves, making the role a natural fit for her.

As time went on, she decided to branch out and work with the Disaster Action Team, bringing comfort to those affected by some of life’s unimaginable hardships. 

As an educator, Donna took advantage of her network of students and their families. She held fundraisers for the Red Cross and shared its vision with her school community. Donna believed it was important to teach her students about social responsibility and the positive impact they could make within their community through volunteering and philanthropy.

Donna started doing casework for the Red Cross Disaster Services while living at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, Fla. It was here she witnessed firsthand accounts of the poor living situations people can be left to after surviving a disaster. Being a caseworker enabled Donna to assist with improving the well-being of people in the community by working with them to develop recovery plans. She found this work most crucial in the first few days following a disaster, when her clients were still experiencing the shock and abruptness from their situations.

Eventually moving to Wisconsin, Donna became a Casework Supervisor. This role exposed her to many new people within the Red Cross volunteer community. Donna found it rewarding being surrounded by dedicated, like-minded people all fighting for the Red Cross mission. While she finds it uplifting to be part of such an inspiring community, Donna was honest about the frustrations one can experience as a volunteer.

“I think it is not being able to do more” for people in crisis, she said.

In any organization, volunteers are limited in their reach. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way in which Red Cross volunteers are able to perform their acts of service and get help to the community, people like Donna are still putting in the work and driving the mission forward.

Find a volunteer opportunity that fits your interests, passions and schedule. Visit redcross.org/VolunteerToday and join dedicated volunteers like Donna.

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