The afternoon sun was beating down on the asphalt as Heather McDowell walked across the parking lot towards the Camarillo Red Cross office. She entered the building and was greeted warmly by the volunteer in the reception area. It was time for a shift change, and it was Heather’s turn to assist at the front desk.
Many people know Red Cross volunteers for their disaster relief efforts, but may not realize the thousands of volunteer hours that are put in every year behind the scenes. Front desk volunteers play an integral role in the day to day operations at local Red Cross offices around the world.
Heather joined her volunteer colleague behind the front desk and got the run down the office happenings for the day: expected visitors, current local disasters, and any new administrative tasks that need to be completed.
Heather has cared for people her entire life, working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for the elderly with cognitive memory problems.
“After retiring, I had a strong desire to help individuals in need during crisis situations,” said Heather.
Just then the phone rang; Heather picked it up and warmly greeted the caller. It was an elderly woman who had lost her home in a fire and was looking for assistance. Heather instantly made the caller her top priority, offering words of comfort, collecting resources and contacts to make the woman’s recovery plan as easy as possible.
“A caseworker was immediately assigned and although I’m not sure what the final outcome was, I know we were able to step in and help her and her family through this very difficult and painful time,” said Heather, “One of the most excellent virtues that I like so much about the American Red Cross is their compassion, caring, consideration for others and friendliness – every person!”
Volunteers like Heather McDowell are part of the more than 90% volunteer workforce that provides humanitarian services in the Central California Region. The Red Cross thanks and honors these selfless and compassionate every day heroes during National Volunteer Week, April 12 – 18. Click here to learn more about the “Day in the Life of a Volunteer” series.