Monday, July 23, 2012

Local volunteers support West Virginia relief efforts

Red Cross workers and members of the affected communities in West Virginia take a quick break from delivering meals for a photo. More photos
 In 2011, when long-time American Red Cross volunteer Bobby Thompson stopped by an auto repair shop in Elizabethtown to get his car fixed, Laurie Jaggers noticed the Red Cross lanyard Bobby was wearing and struck up a conversation about volunteering.

“I had always wanted to volunteer, but with three boys in sports, it was hard,” Laurie said. While they were growing up, she had her sons volunteer during their spare time. Now, with her sons out on their own, she finally has time to practice what she preached.

Most of Laurie’s volunteering is done with the Hardin County Disaster Action Team (DAT) in Kentucky, helping families and individuals affected by home fires. Laurie has deployed twice on disasters—her most recent deployment being to West Virginia where extensive power outages in the middle of a heat wave called for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to deliver food and help keep residents cool until power was restored.

On July 3, Laurie departed for West Virginia with Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) partner Kenny Settles. Twice a day Laurie and Kenny visited the North Carolina Southern Baptist Men’s Kitchen set up in Fairly, West Virginia. After loading up, they delivered meals to four communities:  Clintonville, Smoot, Rainelle and Quinwood.

In Quinwood the duo was known as the Kenny & Laurie Show and developed a strong bond with the residents they served and local volunteers that showed up to lend a hand. Local volunteers donated their own time and equipment to support neighbors. Some drove their personal four-wheelers into affected areas making sure everyone knew where to get food and helped deliver meals to those who were confined to their home.

“Volunteers at the fire department knew the community well enough to know who needed what,” Laurie said. “It was really refreshing to see that feeling of community and people taking care of each other.”

Even in 100 degree weather, Laurie said the community and disaster response workers maintained a positive attitude all sharing one common goal—to get the job done. The relationships built and the opportunity to give to those in need are two key factors in her desire to keep volunteering with the Red Cross. That and the motivation provided by Bobby Thompson and his wife Sharon who runs the Red Cross office in Elizabethtown.

“It’s such a rewarding experience,” she said. “You almost get addicted to it.”

“You never know until you get involved what part you can play in other people’s lives and what role they will play in yours.”

For more information on how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, visit or call (502) 561-3601.