Father and son volunteer duo deploy with same mindset: to help others

By Rachel Helgeson, American Red Cross

The bond between a father and a son is a strong one, both impacting the other for a lifetime.

But one bond between a Wisconsin father and son goes beyond the ties of family and extends to complete strangers in need of help.

Theodore “Ted” King II and his son Theodore “Theo” King III were deployed to New Orleans with the American Red Cross beginning October 19, coincidentally the day of Ted’s birthday. These selfless men spent two weeks of their evenings working a desk at a hotel, fielding questions from volunteers or clients affected by the hurricanes throughout the night.

Ted, left, and Theo King volunteer during the night shift at a hotel shelter in New Orleans, where people were displaced after a record hurricane season.

With Ted’s retirement and Theo’s furlough from his job as a field evaluator lining up and allowing free time, the father and son were able to deploy together at the same time. And they did so during an historic hurricane season along the Gulf Coast.

“It’s a good opportunity to spend time with dad,” Theo said humbly in a phone interview during the deployment. “More than ever right now people are hurting with the economy, pandemic, and hurricanes. I’ve worked in hospitality all my working life since 14; giving back is part of my identity.”

Although the father and son were in charge of providing help logistically, the two were also able to experience giving back to the community in a physical and immediate manner in downtown New Orleans.

“The most intrinsically-rewarding thing to happen was we had 50 extra dinners from last night and one of the bellmen escorted us to pass out meals to the homeless,” Theo explained.

Just a few weeks ago was Ted’s first time connecting with the Red Cross although he had already been friends with Mark Thomas, Wisconsin Red Cross CEO, and was aware of the organization’s impact. Theo has been a part of the organization since June.

Ted’s first volunteer experience was one he’ll never forget, he said. He had the opportunity to personally understand what the Red Cross is all about.

Helping people as part of fall 2020 sheltering operations, the Kings found matched newfound free-time with their drive to give back as volunteers.

“The Red Cross is much more complex than I expected,” Ted said. “Organizing, the personnel, I can’t imagine how much they must be working to manage or supervise a site or overseeing a particular area. I’m pleased to help people out as they need, it would take a lot of training to be able to do what some are doing.”

Ted added he plans on continuing to volunteer, but hopes to get a feel for daytime shifts and other duties.

“I like doing this,” Ted said. “Working with others who like helping others, having the same mission or mindset as far as helping the clients.”

To join disaster volunteers working together near and far, register here.

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