By Dr. Barbara Scruggs, Volunteer Contributor, American Red Cross
Wow, do we have a story to share with you about some friends of ours. We would like you to meet a lovely couple from the Ponca City area, Leon and Linda Lively. And lively they are! They are currently the only Red Cross disaster response team volunteering in Kay County for the past year, and they have responded to seven fires within that year. Let me share a little background on this outgoing service-oriented couple.
Linda had parents who were facing medical challenges, and she moved to Ponca eight years ago to be able to assist her parents, thus beginning her retirement. Linda was beginning to enjoy and love the city, as well as the country area around Ponca. Leon, still commuting while working, also learned to love this area. When he retired, he became a permanent fixture in town. His first memory of the Red Cross dates back to when he was a youngster (about 16) in the Deer Creek area. A tornado came through and destroyed their home. His father was trying to get to the basement when he was slammed by the icebox and slipped to a different area of their property. Leon vividly remembers the Red Cross showing up, passing out food and drinks, providing the comfort care kits of toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc., and providing money for his family to settle for a couple of days. Then, another crew was there with all the neighbors pitching in to salvage, collect and rebuild the community. Leon says he never forgot that and when his turn came around to volunteer his services he thought the Red Cross hit the bill for him. Linda, also having served her parents, wanted to work with disaster outreach in order to help whomever she might be able to assist. “The people who receive the services are so very grateful, especially with the fires we’ve been to, as they may only have what’s left on their backs. It is a joy to be able to provide some degree of comfort in such a time of need.”
The Red Cross office in Ponca City was closed several years ago, but the services are still available to the folks of Ponca City, such as emergency responses to home fires or other disasters and the ability to provide canteening services to first responders when needed. Leon and Linda have a trailer with supplies located at the police department. After discussion with Leon, the City Response Management team leader graciously allowed the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to share their space for easier local access when needed. Moreover, Leon and Linda recognize that smoke alarms give people a much greater chance of getting out of a home on fire safely, and so they help with the Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign in Ponca City. The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms for those who don’t have one in their homes, and the Livelys hope to get these alarms installed in as many homes as possible in the Kay County area.
Leon and Linda are certainly excited about locating a few more volunteers for their disaster team in the Kay County area. Their focus is on giving back to the city, and there are numerous ways to volunteer time to do just that. Volunteering doesn’t require a set amount of time every week. Some folks work with the blood drives, others work with disaster response teams, others work with armed forces, others participants in fairs or parades just to let the population know we are out here and available. Getting onto the Red Cross website is the first step. Go to redcross.org/volunteer, and you will be able to sign up and look at what opportunities are available.. If you do not have a computer, or have difficulty using one, the public librarians are usually most helpful for these kinds of adventures. Moreover, if you can’t get through that way, contact your local Red Cross chapter, and they will connect you with someone who will be more than happy to help you find a way to volunteering.
The seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross govern our activities: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. These principles guide us as we provide humanitarian assistance while not engaging in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature so that we may continue to fulfill our mission and enjoy the confidence of all.