Monday, March 24, 2014

Long Island Volunteer Celia Vollmer Honored

American Red Cross volunteer Celia Vollmer was recognized by the Long Island Red Cross with its highest honor, the Clara Barton Leadership Award, at its Volunteer Recognition Event on March 1 in Woodbury, New York. Celia, who lives in Brentwood, N.Y., works at the Brentwood Public Library as a circulation and computer services advisor.

She joined the Red Cross in 2010 and trained as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) responder, ready to help her neighbors in need anywhere on Long Island.

“DAT responds on a daily basis in our own communities and outer communities,” Celia said. “People really need help when they’re displaced from their homes,” she added. “We show up and make sure that they’re safe and secure, and that they have food, clothes and the resources they need to mitigate their circumstances.”

Celia volunteers whenever and however she is needed: in shelter operations, mass care (feeding) and logistics. She is now a DAT captain, which means that every second week of the month, she is on call 24-hours a day. Other times, she is the backup in the event that another Red Crosser is unable to respond.

Additionally, Celia is trained as a lifesaving skills instructor who teaches Red Cross CPR/AED and First Aid classes every month at the Brentwood Public Library. She acknowledges that she has a very supportive employer and community behind her, which allows her to carry out her volunteer work.

 “The Brentwood Library has been incredibly generous in allowing me to clock out and clock in and get to Red Cross events,” she said. “The library board places value on community service of our staff members.”

It was in fact, it was Celia who helped connect the Red Cross and the Library, which at the March 1 volunteer event received the Red Cross Community Partnership award. “The Library is always looking for new ways to teach and engage with the Brentwood community,” she said.

Sometimes, Celia assists with casework for fire-affected residents during work hours at the library. Many Red Cross Long Island meetings and trainings are also held in the library, which has opened its doors to the community. When nearby Bayshore, N.Y., residents lost their homes to a fire during this brutally cold winter, the library welcomed them and served as a Red Cross reception center.

 During Hurricane Sandy, Celia was lucky enough to have been spared the worst of the storm. In the aftermath, she served as operations manager at the Red Cross shelter at Brentwood High School. Library staff and their families pitched in, helping set up the shelter three days before the storm, assembling cots and getting the facility ready for occupancy.

Throughout that trying time, Celia logged in over 56 days of service. In addition to serving as operations manager, she helped out whenever she could—doing casework, moving equipment, handing out blankets and comfort kits and more.

“We still have people coming into the library system looking for additional help because of Hurricane Sandy,” Celia said. “The first step is to connect them to disaster case management at the Red Cross, which I’m happy to do.”

"The Clara Barton volunteer leadership award award recognizes distinguished and meritorious volunteer service given by an individual in a number of leadership positions, as well as personal expertise that has enabled the American Red Cross to contribute valuable services to the community," said Long Island Board Member and former Senator Michael Balboni, on presenting the award to Celia. "This honor is well-deserved."

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