For over 60 years, the President of the United States has designated March as American Red Cross Month. It is a month when we celebrate our volunteers and supporters who make the mission of the Red Cross a reality.
This month, we are taking a moment to celebrate the volunteers who raised their hands in 2017 to support an unprecedented year of disasters across the country and around the world. From natural catastrophes including hurricanes and floods to devastating wildfires and a tragic mass shooting, the Greater New York Region of the American Red Cross deployed more than 300 volunteers to deliver hope and help during a remarkable time.
We asked several volunteers to share some of their deployment experiences. Today we hear from Nanci Banninger.
Nanci (third from left) with her Red Cross team
What first motivated me was living through Hurricane Hugo in 1999 and reading articles about how the Red Cross was helping people. I had time on my hands and I wanted to volunteer with an organization I trusted.
How many times have you been deployed, and where?
I have been deployed three times: Baton Rouge, LA; Greenville, NC; Beaumont, TX
What was your most memorable deployment this past year?
I would say Beaumont, Texas, was my most memorable deployment. I was able to help out in three different positions, met incredible volunteers and local residents, and worked with different agencies for the same cause: to help those affected by the hurricane [Harvey].
What was your mission? What did you do on a daily basis? What obstacles did you face?
My main mission was to bring food, water, supplies and comfort to those affected by the devastation that the hurricane brought. My other mission was to mentor my partners who were new or who had never deployed before.
On all three deployments, I was an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver and brought two hot meals, water, snacks, etc. daily to folks affected by the damage from the hurricane.
Each day, we faced heat and humidity, long hours, driving a truck in states that were new to us, finding gas, travelling around the affected areas through debris.
Nanci (second from left) taking a well-deserved break with her fellow volunteers
What touched me the most were the residents. With all they had been through, losing their homes, local businesses, communications, etc., they were all so very nice and worried about us getting home safely, and getting enough rest. They were all amazed that we came from different states as far away as Alaska. The southerners I met were all very sweet people blessing us for any little thing we gave them and never complaining about anything, all thinking they will get through this and move on and all helping each other.
I had one resident who gave me his hat after I had remarked how nice it was. It was a cowboy type hat all soft and worn in. I had another, a little boy, who gave us a hug for retrieving a toothbrush holder that was his only toy and which had rolled under our ERV. One other, named Ma, gave us canned jams and jellies and embroidered pillow cases to thank us for bringing them food. I will never forget her!
Thank you Nanci for sharing your experience and for traveling to Texas in October 2017 to deliver the mission of the American Red Cross. We are grateful for your service! #RedCrossMonth