All American Red Cross (ARC) disaster assistance is free...
Considering what it takes to get the job done, I find that fact truly remarkable. It is probably why I enjoy being a cog in their corporate, non-profit wheel. Wearing the Red Cross Volunteer mantle is like Clark Kent hiding his Superman suit until it is time to get busy. One email call to action is enough to mobilize and energize supporters to prep for a disaster. It is a unique and rewarding position that is rarely ever boring. Best part? If you apply yourself to your training, this organization will waste no time putting your skills to use.
Yup. True dat. This middle-aged gym rat, unpredictably quirky Curious George kinda gal who enjoys Army cot pajama-writing is a newbie ARC volunteer who is NOT a paid employee, or an ARC veteran with interesting war stories. Technically, I am considered by my cool, close, veteran Rockledge peeps a "Baby Crosser with my National Disaster Services pamper on."
FYI: The toddler analogy is spot on, people. Don't get offended. I frequently act like a three year old and gravitate towards pretty, shiny objects. It actually works in my favor. Think I'm kidding? Fact: I joined the Logistics team because of their uber shiny trucks, vans and cars. Yeah, Bay-bay. Score one for defensive driver training and totally embracing your inner child. Hoo-rah! and Boo-yeah! It is freakin' awesome to be on the logistics team. Dude: We get to fetch and move stuff, meeting interesting people (silly grin).
So... that "pamper-spank" is an awesome, snarky-sweet, back-handed compliment from people who know and wish me well. It means (a) I have just enough computer knowledge to be dangerous (evil grin), and (b) I am a reasonably competent trainee entrusted with a stellar deployment assignment on the other side of the country who will stay up all night and do what must be done. Yeah. Even finish writing my blog during mandatory lights out (LOL). Score two for the reality of embracing training and earning my camp Not-A-Whimp virtual badge (good for free nachos and a fizzy cooler beverage). Hoo-rah! Is being an ARC humanitarian starting to peak your interest? Hmm... You should consider becoming a volunteer. We need help and donations. Always. Did I mention it is never boring? That we help people in need? Yeah, I think I did...
New to my blog? Here's the skinny: We are roughing it to help people burned out of their homes. I am a happy, 50 year old kid learning to walk where other Crossers before me have traveled. I have endured the itchy horse blanket and torture cot. I can wash in a public ladies room without flinching. I can have junk food for breakfast, lunch and dinner (we are serious about our snackage over here and do have nutritious meals between snacks... sometimes). I can brave the mercurial, unpredictable portable state shower that can't decide if it wants to burn or freeze you, so does both, with impunity. I can even go without the prerequisite shower flip flops. Concrete and dirt is just concrete and dirt, right? See? No problem...
On the Mental Health down low: This old dog is learning new bootcamp survival tricks and having unexpected fun experiencing an interesting, intense adventure... Psst, I have to check in with my M.H. gal pal looking out for me back home, so here is my CA wild fire update:
While I sift through the remnants of other peoples shattered lives, I think of my husband and kids and realize if it were us losing everything, I'd want a kind hand and confident, quiet voice to help out. Sometimes, victims confuse confidence for arrogance when they don't hear what they want to hear and don't receive what they believe they deserve... This is me stating we hear and see you and are committed to answering this disaster within the scope of our authority as delineated by the American Red Cross. We volunteers do a lot, but we can't do everything, that is why we have referral partners who specialize in assisting people within the scope of their corporate mandate.
"There, but for the grace of God, go I," takes on a whole new meaning when you are standing in a field of desolation adjacent to a field that has not been touched. Fire is a fickle bitch. It flows where the wind blows. It leaves a lasting hint of smell behind the wind fails to dissipate. A ghost of smoke seeping from the pores of blackened trees... Brittle ground making an eerie, dry, rubbing bones kind of papery bug scrambling sound, periodically punctured by the sudden small snap, crackle and popping of tiny deadened, blackened limbs giving way to the breeze. Even the birds pause, as if they collectively know something bad has passed and may be returning.
It makes my skin crawl to see the barren, blackened land amidst the pristine, so I am taking baby steps, gingerly walking through the countryside lanes documenting areas of private devastation. After taking a long, slow look around, it made me appreciate the fact that I have been FEMA and Red Cross trained. To endure this, you need the training. It is hard to witness lives destroyed. We struggle to sleep... The Brevard County Emergency Operations Center (pictured above) is right next door to the our American Red Cross Rockledge office. Since our parking lots are kissing cousins, we sometimes train with them, which is freakin' awesome if you are fortunate to get a seat.
I took my Psychological First Aid class with Catherine Shelton right in this room. She is one of my Rockledge trainers, a mental health professional and a great gal who gives stellar disaster services advice. I made an awesome friend when I met her. She suggested we write during the training session, so I am writing... trying to write every day.
If you join our nation-wide organization, you will get to meet and work with wonderful people like Catherine too. If you keep reading my blog, you may even learn to develop a government toy fetish to rival my own mental droolings and obsessively train hard to get the opportunity to play with a few.
Come on, you know you really wanna know what is on those EOC computers and see live sat feeds. Dude: Like tracking freaky weather issues? It's better than the movies in there (silly grin).
FYI: The American Red Cross has their own mad-spankin' national computer system (that gets continual upgrades) to help workers maximize efficiencies (or get our help desk Zen monkey on when we become hopelessly lost and need some step by step instructions to get the job done).
The American Red Cross has an interesting Mission statement: "The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors." When you read that, keep in mind I am an example of a volunteer and a donor, so yeah, it actually works that way. It is why we are here, in the midst of your pain, sleeping on Army cots to keep the staging area staffed 24 hours a day.