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Staying Active in Retirement

by John R.

The Red Cross was there for John R. when he needed help. Now he’s a Mile High Red Cross volunteer helping others.

John was in the military, stationed in Hawaii when he had a family emergency back home in Minnesota. “The Red Cross helped me get emergency leave and arranged my travel to get me home,” he said. He never forgot what they did for him.

John went on to a career in information services with United Airlines. When he retired, he wanted to spend his time giving back. He called his local Red Cross chapter to volunteer.

He started helping in administration but soon trained to join a Disaster Action Team (DAT). “Disaster Response was where help was needed - still is,” he says, “and my humanitarian side told me I needed to help people.” He became a DAT captain and, eight years later, serves as Volunteer Partner to the Interim Director of Response.

When disaster strikes (often a home fire), John and other team members are on the spot to help those affected. He finds out what is needed and arranges hotel lodging and provides funds for immediate needs when necessary. He may link the clients with government services, contact their insurance provider, or call in Red Cross mental health professionals. He makes the calls and completes the paperwork.

DAT volunteers are on-call one week per month for daytimes, evenings and weekends. They might respond to several calls or none during the week-long shift.

After last year’s devastating tornado in Windsor, Colorado, John was collecting information to help provide financial services to the hundreds whose homes were damaged or destroyed. Disaster response volunteers can work locally or train to be deployed to disasters across the country. John helped after floods in Oklahoma and Washington State.

“You feel better when you’re helping someone else feel better,” he says. There are other benefits. Volunteers get to know a lot of great people. They can receive health and safety training. Many volunteers find their Red Cross experience can help advance career goals.

How long does John plan to be a volunteer? “As long as I feel I’m being useful,” he says.

John embodies that American spirit that we are all in this together. To join John in his efforts to keep our country safe within our borders, find your local Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/en/volunteertime or keyword search at Serve.gov: “Red Cross” or "Emergency" or "Disaster."

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