By JB Clark
TUPELO – Red Cross volunteers in the Northeast Mississippi chapter were honored Thursday night as a part of National Volunteer Week.
Patty Tucker, chapter executive for Northeast Mississippi, said more than 300 volunteers help cover the chapter’s 16 counties.
“We have about 100 volunteers we could call who are ready on a moment’s notice to go into the field and provide services,” Tucker said.
The majority of the volunteer work in the area involves responding to house fires, with 274 families receiving care and assistance from the Red Cross of Northeast Mississippi last year.
Sandra Torres, one of Tucker’s most dependable volunteers, responded to mudslides in Colorado earlier this month and has done everything from local fire assistance to being on-site with her mobile food truck when a biodiesel plant exploded in New Albany earlier this year to hurricane response on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“After my husband died, I said, ‘God, what can I do with my life?’ and he said, ‘Well, you love to talk,’” said Torres, who speaks Spanish and sign language, a big advantage at disaster scenes. “People get to see God through me that way.”
She bean volunteering in 1998 with the Red Cross.
Volunteer Joe Lukas told volunteers there is a job at Red Cross for everyone. “I remember my first job with Red Cross in Tupelo was unclogging a toilet in this very building.”
The job involves a lot of sadness, he said, but a great deal of happiness comes through the Red Cross.
“Volunteers don’t get paid but I do,” he said. “I get smiles, hugs, a pat on the back, a handshake. I’ve never found an opportunity to serve and yet be served so much as I have at the Red Cross.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with Red Cross can learn more by calling (662) 842-6101 or going to www.RedCross.org/Mississippi.