Carol Bamesberger: A Caring Soul

By Communications and Marketing Intern, Jaylen Moulton

LA Talks: Tell us about yourself and your experience with the Red Cross.

CB: I started out as a consultant with the Red Cross, to take the training that I created and present it throughout the state of New Jersey. Then, eight years ago, I took the training for disaster spiritual care with the Red Cross- called SAIR (Spiritual Care Aviation Incident Response). A year and a half ago, as people realized that you can’t take care of a human being and ignore where their strength comes from, the Red Cross fully integrated Disaster Spiritual Care as one of their client services.

LA Talks: What do you do as a Disaster Spiritual Care Lead Volunteer?

CB: I manage the spiritual care issues that come in, and am also building a team of disaster spiritual care leaders. The first disaster I was on was in 2011, when I was deployed to the Alabama Tornados. That was a very, very significant learning curve for me. From there, I was at [Hurricane] Sandy, and was also deployed to Boston [Marathon Bombing], which was the hardest deployment of my life. Locally, we deal with things like the Santa Monica shootings, but also with families that have lost someone or have had a very significant loss of resources in a house fire.

LA Talks: What’s your favorite part about volunteering with the Red Cross?

CB: My favorite part is the teamwork. All of us forming together makes a better safety net for each other and for the clients. With our different perspectives, we see and hear different things. At [Hurricane] Sandy, I remember going out to visit families who had lost somebody. We would walk in together, but I would normally go over, get down in front of the survivor, and give our condolences and support. With that, they would then tell their story. This made it very easy to get information more gently, and it also made it easy for other members of the team to record necessary information [from the survivor].

LA Talks: You have touched so many people over the years. Do you have one Red Cross memory that stands out from the rest?

CB: The first occurred in a FEMA shelter, in Alabama, when an older woman was trying to get the intake process done with FEMA. There was a line, and she was with her grandchildren who, of course, were running around. She said, “I’m so sorry.” I said, “I’m Carol, and I’m with the Red Cross. We have tables right back there.  If you would feel safe, I will take your grandchildren back there and color with them, and give them things to play with while you do this.” She responded, “Oh, yes!” When she finished her intake I was holding her little granddaughter, who had fallen asleep in my arms holding onto a Red Cross Mickey Mouse [stuffed animal]. I couldn’t take away that woman’s pain, I couldn’t fill out the forms for her, I couldn’t help her get her home back— but I could give her peace by helping her with the children for those few minutes.

The second occurred in Boston [after the Boston Marathon Bombing]. I asked one woman, “Tell me about your daughter?” She started crying, “She’s going to have her leg amputated tomorrow…can I hug you?” As I held her she said in my ear, “Please, pray for my daughter.” I responded, “Not only will I pray for your daughter, but I will have many others praying for your daughter.” The woman turned back to me and said, “Carol, we wanted someone to pray [for our daughter] for days, and I didn’t know who to ask.” To me, that moment defined why spiritual care is important. We don’t bring our faith to the people we serve; we stand beside them to hear where they get their strength from. Whatever religion that is, or if no religion at all, we are there!

LA Talks: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Is there a final message you want readers to leave with?

CB: This is something I wrote that I say to myself every day, something I see in the Red Cross:

“We are, each of us, a member of a global family. We love, honor, respect, and empower each other. Together we have all that we need, and in our community there is a constant replenishing of all that we need. We are celebrators of life, sharing our gifts and our burdens, and all of this divinely guided. One world, one family, ours, humankind.”

 

Jaylen Moulton will be a Senior at Hawthorne Math and Science Academy. She enjoys drawing, singing and of course, writing! Her college plans include majoring in Psychology and Film Studies. This is Jaylen’s first year interning with the American Red Cross.

Facebooktwitter

Tags

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *