As a third-generation Red Cross volunteer, Cathy Sproule was heartbroken to discover that among the valuables stolen from her home in a burglary last year, was her family’s prized collection of American Red Cross pins dating back to WWI.
Chief among them was her own Clara Barton Award — the highest award the American Red Cross bestows upon volunteers, recognizing meritorious service in volunteer leadership positions held over a period of years.
“The American Red Cross means a lot to my family and me,” said Cathy. “I started as a Red Cross lifeguard in college, later became an American Red Cross employee, serving as Director of Emergency Services, and was appointed as an international representative for the Red Cross in a collaborative study of the earthquake and tsunami response in Japan. I have been a local volunteer and disaster responder since the year 2000. I’ve had an amazing run.”
So as Sproule worked to prepare a January mass shelter drill in her volunteer role as a Mass Care Coordinator, her son, Christopher, a U.S. Homeland Security official, worked furtively with the Red Cross Los Angeles Region personnel and Volunteer Services to locate a Clara Barton replacement pin for Sproule.
In mid-Fanuary, as a shelter drill meeting was wrapping up, Joselito Garcia-Ruiz, the Los Angeles Region’s Disaster Program Officer, had one last item on the agenda. On behalf of the American Red Cross, Garcia-Ruiz was honored to present another Clara Barton Award, just like the original, to an astonished Sproule.
“The Red Cross Los Angeles Region was happy to recognize once again Cathy’s life-long commitment to the American Red Cross and appreciate her years of service helping our organization prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies,” said Alex Rose, a Red Cross Territory 2 Disaster Manager who worked with Sproule on the January shelter exercise.
A retired special education teacher, Sproule joined the Red Cross in 2000 after wildfires scorched the mountains near her home in La Cañada-Flintridge. In her tenure with the Red Cross, she has responded to many disasters around the country, including those left in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Charley, Sandy and Irene, as well as the Samoan earthquake and tsunami, and California wildfires.
Sproule, whose grandmother and mother both served as Red Cross volunteers, has set her next goal on certification in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.
The Red Cross is proud to have among its family an incredible volunteer like Sproule.
by Sandy Van, Communications Volunteer