by Cindy Huge, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
“The time I spent training with the American Red Cross made me aware that wildfires and other disasters could be real events, and that one day I would be asked to respond to them,” reflects Red Cross housing supervisor Kathy Boswell on joining the organization three years ago. As she was packing her own car to flee the Creek Fire encroaching on Shaver Lake, Kathy Boswell was on the phone already helping other evacuees who were lining up at the Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) at the Foothill Elementary School in Prather, CA.
Hours of Red Cross volunteer training prepared Kathy well. When the evacuation warning text came from Fresno County directly to her cell phone, Boswell immediately put her preparedness plan into action.
With only a few hours to spare, Boswell and husband Tom, gathered up their treasures and necessities: a three-day supply of clothes (including her Red Cross responder vest), food for their beloved dog Auggie and cat Frankie, precious artwork and accessories along with their handmade quilts, and loaded it all into their RV.
“The whole time, I was packing my things and answering my phone to help people who needed a safe place for the night,” said Kathy. “My husband was a champ through it all.” During this time, Boswell continued to help procure hotel rooms for Creek Fire evacuees.
“Even though she was an evacuee, Kathy Boswell was the first one to jump up to help. She always puts others before herself. This says so very much about her character,” stated Jesse Sandoval, Disaster Program Manager for the Fresno Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Boswells drove away in their RV and car, parking them safely in the driveway of the home of Kathy’s sister. Tom took care of the animals, freeing up Kathy to go straight to the largest Red Cross TEP at Clovis North High School, where hundreds of evacuees were seeking safe shelter. After evacuating and putting in a 6-hour shift, she finally returned to rest in her RV.
Several days later, her neighbor, also evacuated and living in an RV, called to share the good news that a kind resident of Millerton Lake offered the use of his private RV park where both families could stay with their vehicles.
“I was overwhelmed that someone wanted to help me, and that they wouldn’t accept anything in return,” Kathy said. “Life can change very quickly, but that’s when people are at their best.”
Become a Volunteer
Your time and talent can make a real difference in people’s lives. Our need for volunteers is constant and continues to evolve as we navigate this health crisis. Volunteer opportunities include delivering much-needed services to your community, with a wide variety of remote (work-from-home) options available.
You can also help those affected by disasters and countless other crisis’ by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift will enable the Red Cross to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 1-800-Red Cross to donate.