By Dr. Elaine Ducharme

Many of us have been asking what is going on in the world. Hurricane Harvey, Irma Jose and Maria have been destroying homes and cities and devastating islands. The entire country of Barbuda was destroyed. At least 82 individuals died in Hurricane Harvey. The number dead and missing in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria remains unknown. The Caribbean will never be the same as it was before this hurricane season. Earthquakes in Mexico have left over 300 dead and at least 30 still missing.

Many of us have also noticed that when terrible events such as these occur, people seem to rise to their best. They reach out to others. They pray together and rebuild together. It doesn’t matter whether someone is black or white, young or old, Republican or Democrat. They just reach out and offer help. One of the groups that is always present in face of disasters is the Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 90 percent of the American Red Cross workforce.

I am very proud to say I have been a mental health volunteer with this organization for a number of years. And yet, what I do pales in comparison to the Red Crossers who work tirelessly every day do to provide assistance locally to victims of fires and other disasters as well as helping people maintain safety by installing smoke detectors throughout our state. But when major disasters such as those we have been witnessing this last month happen, the Red Cross Volunteers really step it up.

More than 5,300 dedicated Red Crossers are currently on the ground in Texas, Louisiana, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina – delivering comfort and hope to those who’ve been impacted by these catastrophic and historic storms. Over the last four weeks, they worked with their community partners to provide more than 985,000 overnight shelter stays and serve more than 3.6 million meals and snacks to people facing overwhelming need. And in the past week, countless Red Crossers have worked tirelessly on the successful relaunch of their program to provide immediate financial assistance to qualified Texas households severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. And the work goes on.

This is incredible. People simply packing up a few things and heading into disaster areas for 2 week stretches. Most of them will get little sleep, work tirelessly sometimes forgetting to even take time to eat and in these recent instances, be exposed to incredibly harsh conditions.

I have had the privilege of talking to several people as they have returned from their deployments in Texas. They were all exhausted, many had colds, but every one said to me that it was worth it. They would spend a few days getting rest and some would then be ready for another deployment.

I really want to take this blog to say thank you to all of those Individuals in the Red Cross and other community organizations working to help people survive and rebuild their lives. And to those individuals who’s lives have been ripped apart, who’s homes have been destroyed and loved ones lost or missing, I want to send my thoughts and prayers for your healing and recovery.

For those of you interested in volunteering your services at the Red Cross please go HERE.


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