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Red Cross Volunteer Pays it Forward in South Carolina

Written by Don Underwood, American Red Cross 

October 9, 2015. Columbia, South Carolina. American Red Cross is responding to the flooding throughout South Carolina. Photo by Danuta Otfinowski/American Red Cross

In a world of what goes around comes around, Patricia Clark found a connection with the American Red Cross, from dark days of personal loss and suffering to giving back to others as a shelter volunteer.

The Gulfport, MS resident lost her daughter in 1988 to illness and even now, talking about it brings tears to her eyes. Her grief nearly incapacitated her until a close friend forced her to “get out of bed and search for something to live for,” Patricia recalls.

They drove to a Red Cross blood bank at Keesler Air Force Base at Biloxi, MS where they stopped and Patricia volunteered.

Emily Shelby, the blood bank manager took Patricia under her wing and gave her something to focus on other than her grief.

”She was just like a drill sergeant. She didn’t give me a moment and kept me busy,” said Patricia who moved away when her Navy husband was transferred overseas.

A second tragedy hit Patricia and her family after they returned. In 2005, her family lost their home and just about everything inside it to Katrina. She turned to FEMA and private groups for help.

But a Red Cross volunteer found her.

“That woman said she’d been told I needed food,” Patricia says. “She took me to the store.”South Carolina Floods 2015

The paths of Red Cross and Patricia crossed again. She worked in other Red Cross positions including as a caseworker in her home chapter in Biloxi.

In South Carolina, Patricia has been assigned to one of the shelters housing people displaced from the flood, keeping busy with everything from greeting late-night arrivals with a smile, to holding a frightened child.

For Patricia, the long hours and sometimes hard work at the shelter is all worth it.

“Meeting people and listening to their story and telling them it’s going to be all right,” she said. “I want to let them know they can make it.”

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  1. Thanks for your service, Patricia! All of us in Mississippi are proud of your compassion for others and your gift of time and talent to the people of South Carolina.

  2. Hi, I am trying to collate a group that is Called Worcester County Heroin Awareness, I am working with the Town Officials in my Town of Uxbridge and trying to get a slow down on this Overdose of Heroin that are killing many loved ones all over, I have been inspired by the Organization on Facebook and website Heroin is killing my Town, it is getting to the point he spread his word and we all in many towns and state have been spreading the word, I guess I would like to ask if there is any way that you can help us with the epidermic and if that is something we can look into if need be with many people will be out in the cold and homeless. I have many items I would like to donate and maybe if even helping with care packages for people in Recovery could be an option, I would love to speak with someone about this issue, Many are lost and when they are getting help, they lose everything , so I would like for you to get back to me on your thoughts of care packages for Addicts. family members that we could maybe get together and do this as a Team in our town with you, Please get back to me As soon as possible, Thank you so much, my phone is 508-278-6139