Friday, February 14, 2014

Red Cross Volunteers in Action: Norman and Sandra Naval

When Sandra Naval retired from her job as an art therapist at a New York City hospital, she looked around for something worthwhile to fill her time. That something turned out to be the Red Cross.

She found a good fit at the Greater New York Red Cross. Every Tuesday, Sandra volunteers in the casework area, the place where individuals who have been affected by a fire or other emergency confer with Red Cross caseworkers. Sandra sits at the department’s front desk, greets people and helps to process their paperwork.

“I really enjoy making people comfortable and offering them a snack when they arrive,” she said. “I feel I offer them some compassion for what they’re going through.”

Sandra enjoys the work so much that in addition to deciding to train to become a caseworker herself, when her husband, Norman, retired from his job as a radio engineer, she suggested he volunteer with the Red Cross as well.

Norman now spends one day a week at the Greater New York region’s Emergency Communications Center, taking calls from residents displaced by emergencies and disasters, monitoring TV news networks and getting communications from New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and fire dispatchers.

“It’s an area where anything and everything is thrown at you, he said. “You don’t know what the next phone call will be about.”

One morning, Norman took a call from an individual displaced by a fire. He took her information and sent it on to the caseworkers. Later that afternoon, when the woman came in for one-on-one casework help, Sandra welcomed her.

The couple, who live in Manhattan and have been married for 27 years, both volunteer on Tuesdays, and go to lunch together as often as they are able. They are happy to be helping people at the Red Cross.

“It’s a great organization,” Norman said. “They provide great service to people in their time of crises.”

“The whole idea of the Red Cross is compassionate service,” said Sandra. “I feel that I’m doing something really good here.”

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