Humanitarian - committed to improving the lives of other people; somebody who seeks to improve the lives of others; somebody who believes in the philosophical theory of humanitarianism.
|Mike Sewell (center) accepts the Virginia T. Keene Volunteer of the Year Award for Humanitarian Services at the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on October 27, 2011.|
Last October, before Mike Sewell received the Virginia T. Keeney Volunteer of the Year Award for Humanitarian Services, he had participated in four major 2011 disaster operations. He traveled within his home state of Kentucky and as far away as Minot, North Dakota.
“I’ve got friends all over the U.S. now,” Mike said. He keeps in touch with volunteers he has worked with on disaster operations via Facebook, and he looks forward to reuniting with them on future operations.
Mike has met hundreds of people while volunteering and has supported a variety of areas, even blood services. He has taken the majority of disaster training courses offered by the Red Cross and during the past year, has had several opportunities to put his training to use.
“The learning process never ends,” he said. “I try to soak up everything I can on disasters.”
Mike stays sharp by volunteering with the Louisville Area Chapter on a weekly basis. He is a member of the chapter’s Disaster Action Team (DAT). DAT members are Red Cross first responders for home fires and other disasters. Their primary role is to interview families and individuals affected by disasters to learn what their immediate emergency needs are and determine how the Red Cross can help. Meeting with the families one-on-one is Mike’s favorite part of the job.
“There’s nothing that really drives me except knowing it might make a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “The Red Cross does make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes it’s small; sometimes it has a big impact.”
|Mike and fellow LAC volunteer Kenny Settles drove the local Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to North Carolina in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. They waited out the storm at a hotel on the way to their destination.|
The one regret Mike has about working with the Red Cross is that he didn’t get involved sooner. But the work he has done for the Red Cross over the past two and a half years is a testament to his dedication to the organization as well as his commitment to our humanitarian mission.
“Mike provides assistance above and beyond that expected by responding to requests for emergency supplies and logistic resources any time, day or night, when needed,” Tim Oldham, Manager of Disaster Response for the Louisville Area Chapter wrote in a Volunteer of the Year nomination for Mike.
Mike was very appreciative of the award he received last October, but he also felt a little embarrassed.
“It’s not only me,” Mike said. “It’s a whole group of us that go out and do the work.”
Eventually, Mike would like to become a Red Cross reservist, responding to major disasters when called. It seems like a natural next step given his work over the past year. In the interim, he plans to continue volunteering at the chapter, responding to disasters, and training a new generation of volunteers that will help carry out the Red Cross mission.
“I’m always willing to take the inexperienced under my wing,” he said. “The more people we have educated, the better we’ll be able to serve our clients.”