A New Year’s resolution to volunteer leads to a remarkable year of Red Cross action

By Nicole Sandler, American Red Cross

When Lynn Marquardt, of Sturgeon Bay, applied to be an American Red Cross volunteer one year ago in January, she never expected that her New Year’s resolution would send her to two of the most devastating natural disasters of 2018.

Newly retired from her career as a family nurse practitioner, Marquardt was ready to join her husband, Dennis, as a Red Cross volunteer. After signing up and finding an area she found interesting – disaster response – she went through online and in-person trainings.

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Lynn Marquardt, right, and her husband Dennis, both of Sturgeon Bay, serve meals to two people staying at a shelter in Panama City, Fla. in October.

Then, in spring 2018, her first volunteer response: a trailer fire in the middle of the night, in the nearby town of Brussels. She arrived to find a large family, pets included, huddled in a vehicle after fleeing their burning trailer. Seeing the state they were in – barefoot, scared and in shock, but fortunately unharmed – the reality of the ordeal suddenly hit her.

“I realized what it meant to have to leave behind everything in order to escape – your identification, medications, meaningful personal belongings,” Marquardt said.

But the horror of the situation was replaced by the reward she felt in responding to the family’s immediate needs.

It was a privilege for her to explain to the family that the Red Cross would provide them with shelter and help them get funds for certain basic things.

“To see the relief on their faces meant so much,” she said. “I knew this was the start of their healing process.”


Click here to find your place as a volunteer with the American Red Cross this year.


For both Marquardt and her husband, this affirmed their decision to become Red Cross volunteers. A few months later, they had the opportunity to put their compassion and talents toward a disaster with national attention.

Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the residents of North Carolina when the Marquardts received the call in September. They arrived a few days after the storm hit and were assigned to a shelter in the town of Sanford, housing over 300 residents, many with medical needs such as hemodialysis. Once there, Marquardt was tasked with feeding, all from a single-burner stove in the shelter’s small kitchen.

She realized the first thing she needed to do was build trust in those she would be helping. The simple act of offering snacks and drinks to the residents made a difference.

“When they saw what we could offer, it changed the nature of our relationship,” she said. Marquardt also discovered the generosity of the local community as many restaurants donated food.

Over time the shelter’s residents opened up and shared their stories, which for Marquardt “was a beautiful experience, and a real lesson in humanity.” Despite the hard work, long days, and sharing a single shower with hundreds of others, she came away with a true understanding of the importance of cooperation.

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Sand replacement roads and snapped pine trees were typical sights for Lynn Marquardt during her deployment for Hurricane Michael. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from across the U.S. descended on the area to help those in need.

Only weeks later the call came to travel to Florida and help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The Marquardts flew into Tallahassee, received their orders, and then drove to Panama City.  This was essentially “ground zero” of the storm and one of the hardest hit cities.

“I remember driving in and seeing the destruction. There were still electrical wires dangling and trees blocking the roads,” recalled Marquardt. “We were in the midst of a disaster that was still going on.”

They were directed to a shelter set up in a school, one of the few schools not destroyed by the hurricane, housing hundreds of people. Assigned again to feeding, Marquardt worked alongside volunteers to provide the residents three meals each day. And again, most memorable for Marquardt was the outpouring of support the shelter received from local community members.

With her first year of volunteering now in the books, will 2019 be as busy for Marquardt? There’s no way to predict, but she does have one particular goal: should a disaster strike that involves the need for an emergency response vehicle (ERV), she’d like to put her recent driver training to the test and get behind the wheel.

newyearnewyouShe also plans to complete training to become a Red Cross supervisor/manager. The supervisors she worked under in her first year of volunteering recommended that she and her husband both pursue this training given the leadership skills they demonstrated.

Looking back on an action-packed year of volunteering, Marquardt remarked that “the mission of the Red Cross – to alleviate human suffering – is what drives and inspires me.” The Red Cross is fortunate that Marquardt made the decision to channel this drive into a new year’s resolution that ultimately helped hundreds of people.

It’s not too late for you to consider making a similar resolution at the start of 2019. Take the first step by filling out the volunteer form here.

 

 

 

 

 

Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep in 2010

The dawning of a new year gives us all a chance to look forward and change for the better. In 2010, you can make a difference to others and help keep your family safe by making some Red Cross resolutions.

Resolution: Give of Yourself

You can make a difference in your community and around the world by giving of yourself in 2010. You can:

  • Give time. The American Red Cross Lakeland Chapter has volunteer opportunities for people of all ages and interests. To get started contact, Jody Weyers, Volunteer Director at 920-227-4287 or weyersj@arclakeland.org
  •  Give blood. You could help as many as three people with one donation. Visit www.RedCrossBlood.org to learn more and find a blood drive near you.
  •  Give a donation. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. With a contribution to the Red Cross, you can help us shelter, feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters; supply nearly half of the nation’s blood; teach lifesaving skills; provide international humanitarian aid; and support military members and their families.

Resolution: Get Prepared

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. Gain some peace of mind by gathering the following supplies now:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit, medications and medical items
  • Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Extra cash

Use a downloadable checklist to make things even easier when assembling your emergency preparedness kit.

2. Make a plan. Talk with family and household members about what you would do during emergencies that are most likely to happen in your area.

Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home, in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Other planning tips:

  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. All household members should have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.

  • If you live or travel often to areas near a fault line, learn how to prepare and what to do during an earthquake. If summer brings to mind not just beaches and picnics but also tropical storms and hurricanes, arm yourself with information about what to do in case one occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
  • Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.
  • Learn first aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may not be as available. Click here to see the latest training class scedule. Visit RedCross.org for more information on how to prepare for all types of emergencies. 

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.