Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Goes Around: A Red Cross Client Returns Compassion Eight Years Later

Long-time Red Cross volunteer Damaris Rundle
Every day, dedicated Metro NY Red Cross volunteers bring help, hope and healing to residents affected by fires, floods, building collapses and other emergencies and disasters. Many volunteers say helping others makes them feel that they’re doing their small part to change the world for the better.

Damaris Rundle, the Metro NY Assistant Director of Response for Orange and Sullivan counties, is one such volunteer. “I like the feeling I get at the end of the day,” she says, “knowing that I made a difference.” Often, the feeling of warmth and caring responders convey to Red Cross clients is reciprocated.

Earlier this year, Damaris found herself in the Emergency Room of her local hospital. As she waited to be seen by a doctor, a nurse’s aide walked back and forth in front of her bed several times, staring at Damaris, who began to feel as if she were “on display.” Several hours later, now waiting to be transferred to another facility, Damaris began to feel cold and requested a blanket. The aide hurried over and wrapped a warm blanket around her shoulders, “much like one would do to a child,” said Damaris.

The aide then gave a surprised Damaris a big hug and said, “Years ago you stood by me. You wrapped a blanket around me as I watched my house burn. I’ve often thought about you and how you were there for me. Now it’s my turn to give back to you and to tell you how much that meant to me.”

As sick as Damaris felt, she experienced the warmth this women had to share as they stood together, crying. “I again was reminded of why I do what I do,” said Damaris. A month later, when Damaris was back on her feet, she looked up the fire the woman had spoken of and was amazed to discover that it had occurred eight years earlier, in 2003. Damaris said, “It makes it so worthwhile when the good we do is remembered like this.”

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