That degree of difficulty is compounded when the heartbeat of an organization’s work pumps deeply within the hearts of volunteers.
The Hiwassee Chapter of the American Red Cross is a prime example.
On a recent weekend in mid-February, the local organization’s paid staff and crew of volunteers were overwhelmed when five separate residential fires in four Southeast Tennessee counties forced 19 family members from their homes.
The blazes left families without shelter in Bradley, Polk, Meigs and McMinn counties.
In keeping with its longtime mission and tradition, the American Red Cross was there to assist all five family units within such a condensed frame of time. But it was not easy.
Serving as an American Red Cross volunteer is not easy work.
Nobody ever said it would be.
Yet it is one of the most personally rewarding forms of volunteer activity imaginable. From pulling Gulf Coast victims from the high waters of Hurricane Katrina to rescuing thousands of injured Haitians in last year’s devastating earthquake, working with the American Red Cross is personally challenging yet soulfully enriching.
Obviously, local disasters occur as well.
Including residential fires where families are left standing helplessly in their front yards clinging to shoeboxes of paperwork and pictures, and to each other, as well as life-changing floods that — like fires — can rob people of all their worldly possessions.
And in worst-case scenarios, these disasters take precious human life.
It has happened in Cleveland, Bradley County and surrounding areas.
It will happen again.
Where catastrophes occur, trained American Red Cross volunteers most likely will be on the scene.
In Bradley County.
Throughout our nation.
Around the globe.
Yet even those who perform these day-to-day miracles face their limits. Even the American Red Cross is occasionally stretched to render emergency aid everywhere it is needed.
Which brings us to the Hiwassee Chapter.
On that tragic weekend just a couple of weeks ago, local volunteers were challenged like in no modern recent time.
It prompted the community-friendly and life-saving organization to issue yet another alert for volunteers, those who are willing to sacrifice their time and talents for the good of their neighbors and the goodwill of all around them.
One might say American Red Cross volunteers share a bond with U.S. Marines.
They are proud.
They are few.
And they are always there.
Those interested in making a life change by preparing to save lives are urged to contact the local American Red Cross and speak with Michelle Hammonds, the chapter’s Emergency Service Program manager. She may be reached at 472-1595 or additional information may be obtained by accessing www.hiwasseeredcross.org.
A splendid opportunity is coming your way.
The chapter will host its next free New Volunteer Orientation on Thursday, March 3, at 6 p.m. at the chapter offices at 304 20th St. S.E.
We urge you to make the call.
And save lives.
And those around you.