This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women at the Red Cross who further our mission in communities across the globe every day. One of these women is Julie Bradley, a world traveler and author who has volunteered with our International Services division for the last 9 years. Read on to find out why Julie became a Red Cross volunteer and how she helps people stay connected during global disasters.
Julie first came in contact with the Red Cross in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed her parents’ home. She was clearing debris from the house, when she heard someone approaching. When she walked outside, she saw Red Cross volunteers in an emergency response vehicle. After having eaten granola bars for hours, she and her family welcomed the hot meals offered by the volunteers.
“The hot meals were most welcome, as well as getting to know the stories of the Red Cross volunteers from all over the country. They even told us they had shelter for us. The fact that these good people left their families and homes to help out total strangers in desperate conditions impressed my husband Glen and me so much.”
The couple’s experience with the volunteers moved them so much that they started taking Red Cross courses as soon as they got back home to Arizona.
When Julie first started volunteering with the Red Cross, she deployed only to domestic disasters, while Glen deployed to both national and international disasters. But four years later, Julie had a change of heart after something in her husband shifted.
The Effects of International Disasters
On Jan. 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti. That year, Glen deployed with the American Red Cross team to the island nation for five weeks immediately following the earthquake. When he returned home, Julie was excited to see him, but she noticed something different about him. He was usually a strong and composed person, but Glen had been shattered by the devastation he witnessed in Haiti.
The effect this earthquake had on Glen made Julie realize that although disasters in the U.S. can be devastating, disasters in developing countries can be even worse. So that year, Julie decided that she wanted to spend her time helping people impacted by crises around the globe.
As an international disaster response volunteer, Julie deploys with the Red Cross’s IT Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit (ERU). In her role, Julie helps communities impacted by disasters and disaster responders stay connected by setting up much needed radio and internet networks.
“When people at disaster sites tell me that they can’t perform some medical services, organize relief projects or arrange to receive supplies until they have an internet connection, I really feel like my contribution is important,” said Julie.
One of her most memorable experiences volunteering took place in Nepal—a Himalayan nation struck by a catastrophic earthquake in 2015. While she was setting up an internet connection there, she remembers speaking with workers at a nearby hospital. They told her they were waiting for the internet to be connected before they could start patient amputations because they wanted to communicate with a hospital in Finland during the operations.
A Family Away From Home
In addition to creating connections during disasters, Julie is driven to volunteer because of her teammates. This stems from her experiences working with teams during her 20 years in the U.S. Army. She considers her ERU team to be family.
“We are a team working toward the same goal. Once you’re on our team, you become family—a part of the Red Cross family,” said Julie.
Making a Global Impact
When encouraging others to volunteer with the Red Cross, Julie cannot speak enough about how much volunteering has changed her as a person.
“Volunteering with the Red Cross expands your heart and gives you the ability to see life on a larger scale. It makes you feel like a global person. You’re not thinking locally anymore. And you recognize that all we have is each other,” said Julie.
Become a Volunteer
In the face of crises like earthquakes, typhoons, conflict, severe drought, and famine, the American Red Cross and global Red Cross Red Crescent network join together to ease people’s suffering. Find out how you can volunteer to help disaster victims at home and across the globe at redcross.org.
For more information about American Red Cross’s work around the world, visit redcross.org/international.