2 minute readDisaster

‘We’re Still on Our Honeymoon’: Follow this Couple’s Volunteer Journey to Hurricane Florence

After Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas on September 14, thousands of Red Cross disaster workers and volunteers left their family and friends to help those affected. Two of these disaster workers were Brenda and Peter Simmons, a married couple from Lynchburg, VA. Together they were volunteering at a Red Cross warehouse in Wilmington, NC, where they were responsible for helping move supplies such as comfort and cleanup kits and for driving these supplies to affected areas.

Hurricane Florence was the fourth disaster they’d deployed to this year. They first deployed together during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a year after they got married.

“We got married and then we signed up. We say we’re still on our honeymoon,” said Brenda.

And since then, they’ve deployed to disasters such as the Louisiana floods, Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma to help those in need. Although deploying for multiple disasters a year can take a toll, Brenda and Peter’s mutual passion for helping others and making a difference is what always gets them through.

“I enjoy being here. I don’t know what it is, but it just feels like you’re doing something,” said Peter.

Through the Red Cross, Brenda and Peter have been certified to work in Red Cross shelters, help feed communities and visit affected areas to see how much assistance is needed after a disaster. During Hurricane Florence they got the opportunity to work in a warehouse for the first time.

“I think what I like the most about the warehouse, that we’ve done for the past week, is the teamwork. The people that work together. As a team, you’re pushing a hand jack and somebody else jumps in front of you to help you, to guide you, to protect you and to be your safety man. And everybody’s looking out for each other. The teamwork is what I really, really enjoy,” said Brenda.

The couple’s background in service also contributes to their passion and work ethic. Brenda and Peter are both CPR instructors and Peter has been an EMT for his local rescue squad in Goode, VA for the last 15 years. Brenda also taught swimming lessons for the Red Cross for 25 years and has worked for a number of nonprofit organizations.

They wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross because it’s something they could do together as a couple to help people. It’s work that they can be proud of and they want to encourage others who may be interested in volunteering with the Red Cross to take that leap.

“If you’d like to volunteer and feel good about volunteering, the Red Cross has a space for you,” said Peter.

Become a Volunteer

Volunteers like Brenda and Peter constitute about 90 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. They make it possible to respond to nearly 64,000 disasters every year, most of them being home and apartment fires. Become a volunteer to make a difference in your community and across the country. Find out how here.

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  1. The story and photos of Brenda and Peter Simmons’ experiences with their recent Red Cross volunteer journeys is a wonderful treasure for all of us. Their obvious contentment and fulfillment with what they are doing as reported in “Red Cross Chat” is quite heartwarming and inspirational. Thank you both and all the others who take these most important journeys so often.

  2. Stayed in a “shelter” during hurricane Florence. Slept on a urine-stained floor as Red Cross did not supply beds. They had blankets and pillows that they refused to give out. There was no food. There was no water. There were no supplies to clean ourselves with. Folks had knives and guns in the shelter, were doing drugs and having sex. Bed bugs and other diseases spread throughout and many were so sick they needed to go to the hospital. I have already stopped dozens of people from ever contributing again. I expect you will not publish this comment as it sheds light into the reality of what your organization truly is.

  3. Hi CJ, we are terribly sorry for the situation you described. We take these matters very seriously and we will make sure to report this to the operation team. Anyone who has concerns about unethical conduct at the Red Cross can contact our Concern Line, which is a 24-hour, confidential and anonymous, toll-free line that provides American Red Cross staff, volunteer and members of the public a way to report concerns or questions regarding potentially illegal, unsafe or unethical conduct at: https://www.integrity-helpline.com/RedCross.jsp.