Saturday, March 31, 2018

VOLUNTEER PROFILE: Dottie Brier, A Red Cross Institution

Dottie Brier has volunteered with the Red Cross since 1992.
by Stan Frank

Dottie Brier earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Smith College and went on to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Her focus has always been on mental health counseling and helping clients understand, resolve and heal from traumas they had experienced.

In 1992, Dottie retired as a social worker at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital and joined the Red Cross as part of a national mental health team that was then being assembled. Within a week, she was sent to Florida by the Red Cross to help families impacted by Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed more than 63,000 homes and left more than 175,000 people homeless.

During her career, Dottie has been called on to respond to every conceivable type of disaster. She worked at six tragic aviation incidents including TWA Flight 800 in 1996 which crashed near Kennedy Airport killing 230 people; Egypt Air Flight 990 in 1999, which crashed off the Massachusetts coast killing 217 passengers and crew; and the September 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, which destroyed the World Trade Center and killed nearly 3000 people.

All of these terrible disasters caused untold trauma to those affected, but the most famous aviation incident Dottie was involved in is Flight 1059, known as the Miracle on the Hudson, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his damaged plane on the Hudson River in 2009 and all 155 passengers and crew survived.

In the resulting movie, Sully, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and featured Tom Hanks as Captain Sullenbgerger, Dottie played herself and reenacted the duties of a Red Cross volunteer. Said Dottie, “First things first. ‘Be where the client is.’ ‘Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ are things we learn early in our social work training. They are well exemplified in the movie by our meeting the immediate needs of the cold, frightened, bewildered passengers as soon as they arrived on land. Physically they needed the warmth of the [Red Cross] blankets and emotionally the calm, compassionate presence of a human being, respecting their dignity by walking them through the mobs of people. Appropriate nonverbal behavior was essential and well done in the movie.”

Commenting on the confluence of March being both Social Work Month and Red Cross Month, Dottie noted:

“The Social Work professional and Red Cross go hand in hand. Our values, especially humanitarianism and the worth of and respect for every human being are the basis of each. I personally am devoted to both and love what I have been doing as a Disaster Mental Health volunteer for over 25 years”.

Thank you Dottie for all you have done and continue to do for the Red Cross! #RedCrossMonth

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