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.