This post was originally published on Palmetto Post.
This is Tramone Hester’s first time acting as a volunteer shelter manager for the American Red Cross, and he’s doing a tremendous job. He serves at the tender age of 18-years-old.
His mentor, veteran volunteer Richard Schaffer, saw his leadership potential and put him in charge of an entire shelter which has housed up to 250 people overnight since the beginning of the Hurricane Florence evacuations. This local shelter is open and responding to the needs of displaced families in Dillon, South Carolina. Tramone has been hooked on volunteering for the Red Cross ever since he stepped up last year to help organize a blood drive.
Find out about hosting a Blood Drive challenge.
When Tramone joined in a friendly rivalry with students from his high school and the neighboring school in the same county, it’s wasn’t about football, it was about blood donations.
The Dillon Wildcats challenged the Lake View Wild Gators and the winner would be the team that donates more pints of blood. The prize? The opportunity to win a scholarship, and a meaningful leadership experience.
“We did it to hype the community up so that we could get more blood donations. We made it like a race!” he said.
After the resounding success of the competition, he became a blood donor ambassador. He is also active on his local Disaster Action Team (DAT). And now he has hands-on training as a shelter manager.“They’re making a lot of friends. They keep us up at night,” he mentions.
As he humbly tells his story, his youthful energy shines. He especially loves working with the children. He gives them coloring books, paper and crayons.
It’s is like a family here. One little girl is loving her time at the shelter because the Red Cross provided a stuffed Mickey Mouse for her to play with. Gabby, age 8, drew him a very special picture saying, “This is a picture of the American Red Cross giving people love.”
(*** WARNING: heart melting image ahead.)
Tramone strikes a nostalgic tone when he speaks of his new leadership role. He is wise beyond his years. He thrives on helping foster a spirit of community in the shelter. He facilitates a group meeting every day where clients work to establish positive relationships and promote unity. He is proud to say that he knows the name of almost every person in the shelter.
“We’ve been here so long that we’ve become family.” He stays keenly aware of special needs in the shelter. He makes sure that those with functional and access needs are taken care of.
He is glad to be developing lasting relationships. Members of the South Carolina Army National Guard were staying at the shelter while taking part in search and rescue efforts. When it was time for them to move on, they all exchanged phone numbers.
“We were actually sad when it came time for them to go,” Tramone said. “We have shared a very intense experience.”
Tramone sees a future for himself with the Red Cross.
“I’m always going to be here. I’m not going anywhere.”
For more information about organizing a blood drive and scholarship opportunities through the Red Cross please refer to redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive
As the water rise in the wake of Hurricane Florence, rest assured the American Red Cross is providing shelter, food, hydration and comfort.