From that moment you change your availability on volunteer connection to that last day of deployment where you are exhausted and humbled by what you have been through, deployment is an experience that can change your life. The saying “once in a lifetime” is something that lies heavily on your mind when you think about being deployed; however, you will find that for most Red Crossers on disaster reliefs, this is just one of many stories to share about being deployed around the country. One of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of being deployed is seeing people from all walks of life come together to help people in need. There is so much uncertainty in the world right now, but one thing that is well and true is the will of people to help those who have lost everything. Whether you’re from a big city like Los Angeles, or a small rural town in Texas, one common tie that binds all Red Cross volunteers is simply the power to help. From caseworkers to shelter workers to the damage assessors to mass care, the people you see and the impact you have is immense.
There is something so pure about seeing the effects of nature’s fury in person. I have always watched natural disaster coverage on the news, never expecting that one day I would have an impact on the people and community of a small beach town in South Carolina that was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. There were certainly some hard days where I missed my family and friends and craved for a night’s sleep in my own bed. But as those thoughts lingering in my mind, I knew there were others who have lost so much. Many lost their homes, belongings, and loved ones yet persevered through what was most likely the worst time in their lives.
The ability to assist others in need is a powerful and should never be taken for granted. We all have the underlying willingness and strength to help our neighbors. I feel fortunate to have found that within me and encourage you to find it within yourself as well. Why wait?
Riley Hennessy is a member of the Red Cross Los Angeles – California Safe Corps Disaster Services Team