Did you know that the Red Cross of Alaska deploys volunteers around the country and around the world, to assist in the aftermath of disasters? Have you considered deploying? If you have, but weren’t sure if you had the necessary skills, volunteer Sandi Hodges can set your mind at ease: “You just have to have a lot of patience and be flexible.”
Sandi knows what she is talking about, having participated in one local deployment and three deployments outside of Alaska. She’s provided relief for those displaced by the Sockeye Fire near Willow, conducted disaster assessment in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, staffed a shelter for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and traveled to California to assist those impacted by the Thomas fire.
“I joined the Red Cross as a nurse,” Sandi says, and usually serves in that capacity. During a deployment, Sandi spends her 12-hour days connecting clients with mental health services, assisting them in filling prescriptions, providing basic medical care, and perhaps most importantly, lending a listening ear. “People want to tell their tales and want to be heard…you just have to be there to listen to them. Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on.”
It can be exhausting work, but Sandi takes comfort in the support she receives from the Red Cross. The organization “really takes care of their people,” she says, “I’m proud to be associated with them and feel happy with the organization.”
Such support allows Sandi to focus on what is really important: the clients. She remembers one instance, passing out food and water to a hurricane-ravaged community. Her group “came up upon one family; they’d lost everything and were really confused and devastated.” After completing the day’s work, Sandi’s group returned to assist the family by emptying the house of its ruined contents. “We just kind of helped the family…overcome the immensity of the whole scene,” she says.
Sandi has found her deployment experiences to be intensely rewarding. She says, “My MO most of my life is helping and volunteering. It’s a nice fit for me and a good feeling.”
If you are interested in deploying with the Red Cross, please learn more at www.redcross.org/local/alaska/volunteer.