Teaching a CPR class,
Leading or supporting committee work,
Being on-call to assist with small disasters,
Helping in a shelter on larger disaster responses,
Reviewing health forms for the staff and volunteer workforce,
Speaking to nursing students about volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross…
There are many ways for those in the medical field to share their time and talents with American Red Cross Humanitarian Services. One nurse doing just that is Barb Page. Barb is celebrating her five-year anniversary with the Red Cross and is nearing the end of her second year as Disaster Health Services (DHS) Lead for the Twin Cities Area Chapter. For Barb, volunteering as a nurse for the American Red Cross is about compassion and community.
As a DHS volunteer, Barb has enjoyed sharing her gift of compassion with clients when called upon to assist during disaster response.
Asked why nurses have always played such an important role for the Red Cross, Barb replied, “Everybody at the Red Cross has a lot of care and compassion, but I think it’s just innate for nurses, and that comes through in our work and is an important piece of recovery. We are a big part of getting people back on their feet.”
DHS volunteers are able to offer both practical assistance and emotional support to clients in their times of need. “When someone has lost everything or has been hurt because of a disaster, they need help in so many ways. They need help navigating how to get their life back together,” Barb explained. “In almost every disaster response, there is someone with medication or someone with medical needs who needs help.” With DHS volunteers like Barb standing at the ready to share not just her professional skills but also her caring spirit, the Red Cross is able to more completely meet the needs of clients.
As DHS Lead for the Twin Cities Area Chapter, Barb has enjoyed fostering a sense of community among the DHS volunteer team.
In the beginning of Barb’s tenure, Barb focused on understanding what interested and motivated different volunteers in order to best engage them in ways they would find satisfying. As Barb described, with the variety of activities there is to participate in at the Red Cross, “We need all kinds of people with all kinds of interests.” Barb’s inclusive message is that anyone can find a way to contribute at the Red Cross that will be fulfilling and that will fit his/her unique schedule and strengths.
Barb is now focusing her time as Twin Cities Area DHS Lead on maintaining a mentorship program and four committees centered on sheltering, national deployment, welcoming new volunteers, and external recruitment and education. The mentorship program has helped more than a handful of new volunteer nurses become acquainted and comfortable with responding to local disasters over the past year. Choua Yang, Regional Recovery Program Support Specialist, explained the impact Barb is having locally: “She is a great leader for the DHS group. The mentorship program helps new volunteers navigate the Red Cross and brings them into the DHS community.”
In addition, the more recently established committees are creating new ways for DHS volunteers to get involved and get to know each other, all the while making the Red Cross well positioned and prepared to take action when called upon.
Thinking holistically, as nurses so often do, Barb stated, “You never know if the client you just helped is going to become a volunteer or a donor or help out at the next disaster. It’s a circle.” The Red Cross community is a growing, more encompassing circle because of wonderful volunteers like Barb. Thank you, Barb!
Story by Kelly Clark, Volunteer Services, American Red Cross Minnesota Region. If you or someone you know would be interested in joining this compassionate community of Disaster Health Services volunteers in Minnesota, please contact Volunteer Services.