When Dennis and I retired, we wanted to dedicate ourselves to volunteering. We ended up with the American Red Cross, and it’s been a wonderful journey ever since.
Susie grew up in Northern California and is now enjoying retirement in Southside, Tennessee. She has volunteered all her life, and she and her husband Dennis are now both volunteers in the American Red Cross. For this couple, it's almost like working a full-time job. Dennis will join Susie on the cruise because, as she says, "after thirty years, I don't travel anywhere without him." Susie and Dennis have three grown sons and one beautiful granddaughter who Susie describes as the "light of her life." Susie retired a few years back after a long career as a hotel manager, and Dennis is retired from law enforcement.
When Susie first joined the Red Cross, she thought she would spend most of her time pouring orange juice at blood drives. She walked through the wrong door and, and instead, she ended up in disaster relief. This covers a broad range of activities, and Susie bounces from one job to the next dealing with such things as damage assessment, finding shelter for victims during a crisis, and handling one-on-one casework. During hurricane Sandy, she and Dennis drove an emergency support vehicle throughout Staten Island and provided food, water, and other supplies for 16-hours-a-day. They slept in a modest shelter each night, got up, and then did it again the next day for several weeks in a row. In another disaster, Susie might deal with individual families and find them shelter, medical support, clothing, food, and the like. With the recent floods and tornadoes in Tennessee over the past two years, there had been no shortage of disasters to cope with. Says Susie: "It never gets boring, and I never quite know what's coming next. I really feel good knowing I'm making a contribution."
One of Susie's jobs is to be on call for one week each month in the event of fire or other local emergency. Here she usually works one-on-one with clients to make the best out of a tragic situation. She is also the lead volunteer for the SAFSAF Program, Service to the Armed Forces, and works with the local military commands to get emergency messages to deployed servicemen when necessary. This is an intricate process where the information needs to be verified before contact can be made. Susie then works with the family to help them cope with the situation.