When families’ lives are upended by a disaster, help can’t wait. That’s why many families across the country rely on the American Red Cross every day to provide the hope and help they desperately need. During these continually challenging times, it’s important now more than ever for us to be there to help those who need it most. On March 24 – Red Cross Giving Day–we are asking for your support.
As we look back at a year like no other, we express our gratitude to the remarkable people like you, who have helped make a difference in our lifesaving mission. Get inspired by the stories of people whose lives have been changed over the past year because of the Red Cross.
Taking Shelter Ahead of an Emergency
For most mothers with newborns, staying in an emergency shelter would not be your first option. However, that became a reality for Tamika Ceaser, who evacuated from her home in Lake Charles, Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Laura. Before the storm made impact, Tamika was able to discharge her three-week-old daughter from the NICU and board a bus to Baton Rouge to join hundreds of other evacuees seeking shelter. Evacuees were able to check in to state-run and Red Cross managed shelters, that were now housed in hotels because of COVID-19. For families like Tamika, a safe place to stay, warm meals and recovery assistance provided them the support they needed to get through these difficult times. “It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders,” she said. “I have eight kids. I don’t have funds for a hotel for all of us.”
During her time in the shelter, Tamika was able to connect with Red Cross volunteer Nancy Jodoin, who helped her retrieve medication, food, diapers and even a crib for her newborn. “I wanted to be a nurse to not only care for injuries, but to spread hope,” says Nancy.
Ensuring Families Don’t Face Crises Alone
When COVID-19 first hit, Elizabeth Jascolt lost her job and decided to use her time serving others as a Red Cross volunteer. “It was a great way to give back in a small way, as the world was and is going through such a challenging time,” she said.
As Texas residents continued to get battered by storms throughout the hurricane season, Elizabeth decided to deploy to Houston to help families recover after Hurricane Laura. For two weeks, she supported families at shelters, who lost their homes and businesses, ensuring they felt safe and comforted. Elizabeth witnessed how optimistic people remained despite going through the most difficult times in their lives. After seeing how the Red Cross provided families shelter, food and relief items, it made Elizabeth value the mission she was part of. “I love the feeling I get when I volunteer and help other people. As a human being, I think we all need to help each other because we never know what cards we’ll be dealt with. If there’s anything I can do to help people, I want to do it.”
Feeling supported during a Traumatic Experience
Last year, more than 90 wildfires burned across the west and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate from their homes. The Western Wildfires left many families with thoughts of distress and uncertainty for what the future would hold. During Labor Day weekend, the Punkin-DePlama family had to quickly evacuate when the Creek Fire in California approached their home across the valley.
“We took all of our camping gear because we really thought we would end up down by the river with nowhere else to go,” said Stacey Dey, the mother of four and native Mono from North Fork Rancheria. The family of six drove to a temporary evacuation point, where the Red Cross provided them hotel lodging until they were able to return home. “The Red Cross kept us from having to sleep in a parking lot.”
Last year, Oregon, a place that rarely experiences disasters, suddenly was impacted by devastating wildfires. A natural disaster that destroyed entire towns, heavily polluted the air and was considered to be the worst disaster to ever impact the state. For Mary, witnessing the scorching fire down the canyon and blowing from tree to tree, was enough for her to evacuate her family from their home: “The scariest part of our evacuation was our baby. The time we took him and put him in his car seat to get outside the door and to load him in our mini-van, the air itself just really got to him.”
The family of three called the Red Cross and once they arrived to the evacuation center, they were given immediate assistance to ensure their safety.
“We don’t have that much money to our name. So many businesses and so many families are gone. The compassion that the Red Cross has shown for us as a family, I’ve never had anybody come through that doesn’t even know me or my family and just drop everything to help us,” Mary said.
As a country, we have endured and overcome relentless disasters throughout this heartbreaking pandemic. Let’s continue to join together and support the urgent needs of families when #HelpCantWait on Red Cross Giving Day (March 24). Please give today at redcross.org/GivingDay.