Tuesday, April 12, 2016

National Volunteer Week 2016

Long Island Profiles

By Stan Frank, American Red Cross

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we will be highlighting some of the award winners from our recent volunteer recognition events in Long Island, Metro New York North, and New York City. Today we look at two of our Long Island winners, Ellen Boyle, and Elaine Biller.

Ellen Boyle – Support Services Award
Ellen Boyle receiving Support Services Award

What first motivated you to become a Red Cross Volunteer?  

Ellen Boyle: I’ve always enjoyed volunteering.  I had just finished as a Girl Scout Leader and was looking for a new opportunity.  The Red Cross seemed like it might be a good choice.  I finished my training in the summer of 2011 and my first real disaster experience was Hurricane Irene and I’ve stayed with the organization ever since.

What volunteer activities do you find most satisfying? 

EB: I’m in staffing and working with volunteers so they can go out and help clients.  They know I’ve got their back.  If they have questions or are struggling with something or they don’t know where or who to ask, they can reach out to me and I will see if I can help them.

What are some of the major activities you are currently working on?  

EB: I am currently helping with the NYC Disaster Ready Summit.  I also take great pleasure in helping fellow volunteers maneuver their way through our Learning website (EMBARC) as well as helping them with Volunteer Connection.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of becoming a Red Cross Volunteer?  

EB: It’s a lot of hard work but extremely rewarding at the end of the day knowing you’ve helped someone who is probably going through one of the worst times of their lives.

Elaine Biller – Community Preparedness Award

Elaine Biller receiving Community Preparedness Award

What first motivated you to become a Red Cross Volunteer?  

Elaine Biller: I have always had the Red Cross in my life, first taking swimming lessons, then WSI and the circle completed when my children learned to swim through the Red Cross.  When 9-11 happened, I was a volunteer on a site run  by citizens.  Through the haze and dust I saw the Red Cross Disaster Services truck.  This logo soothed me during this tumultuous time.  It gave me hope that some things would still be right with the world, and I joined shortly after as a volunteer.

What volunteer activities do you find most satisfying?  

EB: I love working with clients.  I am a DAT responder and feel satisfied when I can help someone who just lost everything in a fire, or nearly everything.  During their uncertainty they look for help.  To be able to provide for others who are vulnerable is very humbling, and rewarding.  I worked many jobs during Super Storm Sandy, and I felt I made an impact being on the ERV heading into impacted areas just as the water was receding.  Again, seeing people at their most vulnerable is humbling.  Before I begin any assignment with the Red Cross I say a prayer: “Let me be my best and provide what this person needs, and let my best be enough”.  Again, this simple prayer started with Sandy when I saw the enormity of what we were undertaking.  I say this every time I am asked to help in some way, ever since.

What are some of the major activities you are currently working on?  

EB: I am leading the Long Island team for Citizen Preparedness.  I am on the ERV team, DAT team and part of the Local Disaster Headquarters Team for Long Island (formally, the LDOC).  Recently, I have been asked to serve as a Red Cross Ambassador and look forward to this new venture.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of becoming a Red Cross Volunteer?  

EB: Do it!!! Volunteering gives back in return more than you can ever give.  It fills you with gratitude for being able to help others.  It provides opportunities and experiences out of the ordinary, and you meet amazing, self-less, like-minded people along the way!!

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