Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Timing is everything.

It’s funny how certain dates will never leave your memory, especially when your mind flashes back to the very thing that caused the date to be etched there in the first place. August 29th, 2005, is a day I will always remember—hunkering down with 180 other people in a small, rural elementary school in Hammond, LA, as Katrina barreled through the Gulf Coast. We were in Louisiana on vacation, my friend and I, both Red Cross volunteers from NYC, and, like others who could, we managed to evacuate to higher ground from New Orleans.

Yet I couldn’t imagine being there and not offering to help in some way, even before knowing the magnitude of the devastation that lay ahead. We could have easily jumped aboard a plane the next morning and flown out to safety. Instead we contacted the local Red Cross chapter to offer our assistance since we were trained shelter volunteers. Then we sprang into action, running an evacuation shelter for the next few days. Like that date in our memories—the Red Cross is etched into our beings. It is what we do … it is who we are. I couldn’t have imagined spending that day any other way.

–Sharon Hawa, Bronx, NY

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