PUBLISHED: 2:42 PM on Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Taking time to volunteer
Volunteering for the American Red Cross was something I thought about but never acted upon. There was always the promise of another day when life wasn't so crazy; ironically, it wasn't until I was married, had children and life was busier than ever that Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. My experience as a Red Cross volunteer for the Katrina effort was one of the most amazing of my life, and I found myself wishing I had not waited so long to become involved in the mission of this great organization.

I gained a fresh perspective on the human experience. Life is defined not by our possessions or accomplishments but by those moments and memories that are held in the heart. Family and friends are what matter and giving my time to help others brings a feeling that cannot be measured or experienced in any other way.

I meet people everyday that are excited about the Red Cross and all that it stands for, but like myself so many years ago, I hear them say, "Well, maybe next year when life isn't so busy..." Having been in the same position, I respond with the fact that life will always be busy; it's a matter of choice - give a little, get a lot.

Here at home, the Red Cross responds to the emergency needs of those affected by disaster. Volunteers serve on Disaster Action Teams. These team members are directly responsible for filling the emergency needs of those individuals, families and emergency workers in times of disaster. Whether it is a single-family house fire or a larger disaster affecting entire communities, our Red Cross volunteers are there to help.

Disaster Action Teams are comprised of ordinary people doing extraordinary things every time they respond. They all bring different gifts and talents to their teams, and they all believe in the mission and the principles of the American Red Cross.

If you have been thinking that volunteering would be great, there is no better time than the present. Disaster training classes will begin soon, and our next Volunteer Orientation will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31. You can contact our office at (907)463-5713. If disaster response isn't your thing, but you want to help make our community a safer, more prepared place to live, the American Red Cross offers several opportunities that support our disaster response.