On October 28, at American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., Vonnie Thomas received a 2015 Florence Nightingale Medal, which is the highest international honor for nursing contributions to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and humanitarian action around the globe. The medal is awarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) every other year. It’s given to nurses or nursing aides who have shown exceptional courage or exemplary service during times of peace or war. In other words, this medal is a big deal. And we’re over the moon that Vonnie Thomas, a Red Cross volunteer for more than 65 years, was among this year’s honorees.
Vonnie cares for those who have been hurt by disasters as well as the people providing relief. She serves side-by-side with others in the midst of tragedies such as the north Minneapolis tornado, the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the 35-W bridge collapse on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Or to a woman whose husband died when their farm house burned down in Wisconsin. Vonnie is a leader, innovator, health professional, and humanitarian. She has cared for thousands of people during her decades of Red Cross volunteer service. Vonnie is a selfless leader who is dedicated to the Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering during the toughest of times. She is a coach, mentor and champion for other nurses. She is an example for us all.
Congratulations to you, Vonnie, for receiving this well-deserved recognition. Your humility has a place in the work that you do, but today we ask that you put it aside as we tip our hats in great honor to the amazing woman that you are to many, to us.