Monday, September 10, 2012

Why I Volunteer - KrisTina Berry

KrisTina Berry. Photo by Staci Marie Photography.
In November of 2011, KrisTina Berry found herself performing the same activity many other Americans are spending their time on today—job searching. Not one to wait around for a call back, KrisTina decided her newfound free time would be better spent volunteering for a cause she believes in.

The Make a Wish Foundation, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society are just a few non-profit organizations that were on KrisTina’s list, but she wanted to find a place that offered a chance to be hands-on.  In January, she attended her first Crossing Generations meeting at the Louisville Area Chapter.

She jumped in head first volunteering at blood drives, helping with plans for the 2012 Wrapped in Red Gala and signing up for disaster training. Less than two months into her service with the Red Cross, KrisTina got her first opportunity to volunteer on a disaster relief operation when tornadoes came through Southern Indiana and Eastern Kentucky.

During the March 2 storms, KrisTina sought shelter in her basement with her two cats. The worst was expected to hit Louisville, but instead veered north of the city.

“I’m still in awe,” said KrisTina. “It could have easily been Louisville that was destroyed.”

Knowing that she couldn’t sit by as her neighbors tried to rebuild, KrisTina immediately called the Red Cross to see how she could help. She spent the following weeks preparing food that Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) then delivered to affected areas in Southern Indiana. She worked long days arriving at the chapter at 7 a.m. and leaving at 10 p.m.

“I was in that kitchen making turkey after turkey after ham sandwich,” KrisTina said recalling that the ERVs would leave full of food and return completely empty. “I had my hands on those sandwiches that went to helping people out. They don’t even know who I am, but you know they’re grateful.”

KrisTina had only completed basic volunteer orientation and training prior to the March tornadoes, so she signed up for every disaster relief course she could as soon as she got the chance. Even with two jobs, she continues to be an active member of Crossing Generations and volunteer as much as possible. Just this past weekend, she helped coordinate Red Cross volunteers for a sag stop at the Old Kentucky Home Bicycle Tour.

“When I walk out of Crossing Generations meetings, I feel like we’ve done something,” KrisTina said. “That drives and keeps me motivated. I will volunteer as long as I can.”

For more information on Crossing Generations, visit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disaster Preparedness Kit: Bobble Barton

Bobble Barton is Red Cross Ready.
We love the color coordination.

This September marks my fourth Preparedness Month with the Red Cross. (Eeeek!) One year we focused on the three basic steps to being prepared:  Build a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed. Last year, we introduced 21 Weeks to Prepare, offering suggestions on building a fully stocked disaster kit. Something that 21 Weeks to Prepare strongly encouraged was customizing your disaster kit to fit your needs.

Some families have babies or small children; others have multiple pets that must be taken care of. Some take medication essential to their health or have a family member with special needs.  These are all things to consider when planning for a disaster. To have a little fun, we’ve decided to take a look at how some people might customize their disaster kits, starting with our very own American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton.

Bobble Barton is a practical gal. She keeps things basic and light that way she doesn’t have to tote around a heavy bag while out in the field helping affected residents.

Her must-haves:
  • water
  • beef jerky
  • extra set of clothing
  • First Aid Kit (just in case someone is injured)
  • closed-toe work boots
  • hair pins (because you can’t have your hair in your face while dressing wounds)
  • pen and notebook (to take down names of people that have been separated from their families. We need to get her trained in Safe and Well.)
Just in case:
  • rain boots
  • wool socks
What else do you think Clara would have in her disaster kit? Post your suggestions in the comments below. Anyone who offers a suggestion will be entered to win a prize :)

Visit for a complete list of tips on how to prepare your family today!