By Carol Bromberg, Los Angeles Region Volunteer
Photos by Roxanne Shorbach, Los Angeles Region Volunteer
“I’ve been watching the news coverage (of Hurricane Harvey) and it’s breaking my heart. I want to help.”
I heard this same sentiment expressed repeatedly as I answered telephone calls from ABC7 Southern California viewers making donations to the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund on Aug. 31, 2017, during the Disney-ABC Day of Giving.
I understood their feelings of despair. I too had been watching footage and reading about the thousands of people narrowly escaping the rising floodwaters in Houston. It was too awful to comprehend.
And then I saw something that made me so proud – the Red Cross symbol of hope. Red Cross volunteers were on the ground, welcoming displaced people into shelters, providing meals and comfort to everyone. As one volunteer stated, “No one will be turned away.”
I knew Red Cross Los Angeles Region disaster volunteers were on their way to Houston to help, and I wanted to do my part. So, when I read the email request for Red Cross volunteers to staff the telephone bank at ABC7 for the Day of Giving, I knew I needed to answer the call.
I spoke to about 30 people during my five-hour shift, some of whom had been trying to reach us for several hours because of the high volume of calls to the station. Although I could not see their faces, I knew they represented a cross section of the Southland’s residents. I talked with donors from La Puente, Wilmington, Montebello, Pasadena, Riverside, Manhattan Beach, Sun Valley and all areas in between. Every gift was equally important and equally appreciated. Throughout the day, I was thanked over and over again by people I would never meet because I represented the Red Cross.
Although the mood was somber in the call center, there was a jovial camaraderie. Everyone in the small room, including my fellow Red Cross volunteers and Red Cross employees, the ABC talent from shows like General Hospital and The Bachelor, and the ABC7 staff all had a shared compassion and a common purpose – to help Houstonians get back on their feet. And we all knew if the situation were reversed, they would do the same for us.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances that brought us together, this experience gave me a renewed sense of hope and reminded me of the goodness of Americans.
You can view more of Roxanne Shorbach’s photos from this event on FLICKR.