The worst of circumstances can help us discover the best of ourselves.
Red Cross volunteers respond to disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and hurricanes. Volunteers are also on call for emergencies that arise such as house/apartment fires and some types of accidents where human life has been placed in peril. The organization is staffed 95% by volunteers and funded 100% by donations. It is chartered by Congress, but receives no federal funding, instead partnering with non-profit and faith-based organizations, businesses and local governments. The Red Cross coordinates the overall relief efforts with these entities through preparation, preparedness, and response and recovery. A tremendous amount of communication and training goes into such an endeavor. The fundamental principles and values of the Red Cross make possible the service of thousands of volunteers whose purpose it is to prevent and relieve human suffering.
Around 100 Aurora, Colorado residents called a Red Cross shelter at Aurora Central High School home over the weekend after being displaced by multiple incidents. The shelter was originally opened to support those displaced by the shooting incident and later expanded its purpose after an apartment fire also left families displaced. The shelter provided a safe place to stay, and meals along with physical and mental support. Volunteers gave comfort and care during this time of crisis as well as assistance with post disaster plans so that people’s lives can return to normal.
Over the past few weeks I’ve attended training for disaster response and shelter operations for the American Red Cross and I’ve met some pretty amazing people. Some recently retired, wanting to use their newly found free time helping others, some wanting to give back to their communities in their spare time and some who have dedicated their lives to volunteer service in addition to their day jobs. It has been a humbling experience.
Saturday, when I returned home from the class, I checked my email to find a message forwarded from my husband. He had received news from a friend in Colorado of a woman who is suffering greatly; her name is Kim Anderson. In 2009 Kim was diagnosed with cancer. After two years of treatment, her cancer went into remission. However, it has returned, and as she is heading into the battle once again, today she is facing a new tragedy. Kim’s daughter, Petra, was among those shot and wounded during the massacre at the Batman premiere in Aurora, Colorado. Petra suffered 3 shots in the arm and one through her nose that lodged in the back of her skull and required emergency brain surgery to remove.
With limited resources, Kim, a single mother, now must balance her own urgent treatment needs with her daughter’s critical situation. I don’t personally know Kim. Our sons are connected through the troop where they both earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Kim is a teacher, a writer and a human being in need of our strength and support. It would be wonderful if her family could experience an outpouring of love from around the world.
The email included information for anyone interested in making a donation to the Anderson family. In Colorado donations are being accepted at any branch of US Bank. For those living outside the area, donations may be sent to: