A part of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Chapter in Ohio, Pam Williams has been volunteering for the Red Cross since 2006. Pam is from Akron, OH, and is the manager for government operations. As a part of external affairs, Pam maintains communication between the Red Cross and its government partners, including everything from state and local governments up to entities on the national level such as FEMA. In 2015 she was deployed to Kentucky as part of the summer flood relief efforts.
She is an active member of her community, which is how she was introduced to the Red Cross: She was asked to join the Red Cross board, and rather than simply hold the position, she wanted to learn more and get involved. She attended trainings at her local Red Cross, took classes, and eventually got involved in disaster operations.
Rearranging her schedule and putting her home-life on hold is difficult, but like most people who deploy to disaster operations, Pam is ready to go the moment the call comes in. She has a kit prepared with essentials--clothes, paperwork, and candy--to take with her, and then she’s ready to go.
Working in disaster operations has shown Pam the resilience people have in the face of disaster, and allows her to appreciate what she has and how fortunate it is she is able to assist. It has also given her an appreciation for the effort of the individuals who volunteer during deployment, as well as the combined group effort it takes to keep disaster operations running.
Sometimes disaster operations are fortunate enough to have a base already running. Other times, they have to start from scratch.
“Sometimes we’re working an operation out of an empty big box store,” Pam said during our interview. “To watch people from around the country who don’t know each other come together and in hours put together an operation—it’s magical.”
Seeing the sheer number of people who put their lives on hold when they are called to deploy is one of the things that amazes Pam the most about her job, and according to Pam, it’s the consistent training and knowledge taught by the Red Cross that allows the volunteers to work alongside people from opposite ends of the country to accomplish their goals. She encourages people to volunteer with the Red Cross, because even though large operations like disaster relief require a lot of hands and many working pieces, one person can still make a difference.