Did you know that the American Red Cross workforce is made up of 90% volunteers? Whether you find your passion by helping those in need or by serving with military families and veterans, there is a place for you in the Red Cross family.
Our Service to the Armed Forces team provides opportunities for active military members to stay connected here at home and can help veterans with emergency needs. The Biomedical team needs Blood Donor Ambassadors and transportation specialists. Our Communications Department always needs volunteers with experience in writing, producing videos and social media.
Perhaps the area of service the Red Cross is most known for is disaster response. There are several volunteer opportunities with our disaster team responding to events such as home fires, floods and other natural disasters. Those volunteers serve in mass care areas including; sheltering, warehousing and feeding. One of these volunteer teams is the Wingos.
The Wingo family is a staple in not only McAlester, but across the state as well. Harriet, Wayne and his brother, Floyd have almost 10,000 combined hours of service to the American Red Cross.
Throughout their time with the Red Cross, the Wingos have served during several disasters, with Wayne and Harriet’s first deployment being their most memorable. It was a response to a tornado in Atoka county.
“We were so new,” said Wayne. “We opened a shelter at midnight the first night we volunteered and came right back to pick up the emergency response vehicle. We then took on mass-care and feeding for that community. Then we moved on to case work, and we helped with anything we could get our hands on.”
The duo dove head first into the unknown together.
“We had taken trainings,” said Harriet. “But we were new to volunteering, so everything kind of came at once. We were learning on the job, while getting to know this wonderful community.”
The couple has even called Wayne’s older brother, Floyd, into the cause.
“I enjoy working with the Red Cross, because the work means a lot to other people.” said Floyd. “Serving in the warehouse and delivering supplies to people really makes a difference.”
The Wingos have served in several capacities during disaster response, including sheltering, warehousing, feeding and casework.
“All of the Wingos have served diligently throughout their time with the Red Cross,” said Mike Mlynek, the Executive Director of the South Central and Southeast Chapter. “We can never truly know the impact they have had on this community and across the country.”
Still, the Wingos continue to offer support during times of need, wherever they can.
“We continue to volunteer for the Red Cross because every call it’s a new friendship, it’s a new family.” Said Harriet. “Disaster Team meetings are like family reunions from deployments.”
The meaning of the work is what keeps volunteers like the Wingos coming back to serve.
“I stay with the Red Cross because I love helping people.” said Wayne.
Disaster volunteers aren’t the only way to support the mission of the Red Cross, though.
“The Red Cross provides a truly unique opportunity to give back to your community in so many different ways,” continued Mlynek. “There are roles for anyone and everyone wanting to make a difference.”
The American Red Cross is always looking for people like the Wingos to help with a wide array of situations. From single family house fires to large scale disasters, the Red Cross has boots on the ground. If you would like to join the Wingos and volunteer with the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.