JOLIET, IL – For 45 years, Dorothy Dodendorf has given her time and blood to the American Red Cross.
Dorothy was honored for her decades of service to humanitarian organization with the Clara Barton Award on May 12 at the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley Volunteer Recognition Dinner at Harrah’s Joliet Hotel. The award is named for Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. It is the highest award a Red Cross volunteer can receive.
Dorothy first became involved with the Red Cross in high school, when she joined the youth Red Cross club and then continued on in college. However, she believes that her work really began in 1970 when she started volunteering in blood donation. At the time, Dorothy was pregnant and unable to give blood, so she helped by coordinating blood drives.
In 1985, Dorothy joined the Disaster Action Team (DAT) and has been responding to help families affected by home fires, floods and tornadoes ever since. She remembers her first deployment to Miami during Hurricane Andrew.
“I was struck by how much we can come together and get something accomplished in the midst of mass destruction,” she said.
This award does not mark the end of Dorothy’s Red Cross career, but it is a major milestone. She plans to continue her volunteer work until she says she “can’t manage to do it.” Most recently, she was deployed to Louisiana earlier this year for the floods.
Three other individuals also received recognition at the event: Steve Swett received the Volunteer Leadership Award; Vicki Klups received the Disaster Services Leadership Award; and Bill Brady received the 5 Years of Service Award. The 11 youth members of the Illinois Valley Community College Red Cross Club received the Red Cross Club Award.
Volunteers carry out more than 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. More than 2,000 people volunteer for the Red Cross in Northern Illinois. They staff blood drives, teach lifesaving First Aid & CPR skills, respond to home fires, work with military families and much more.
The Red Cross is always looking for new volunteers and you don’t have to have 45 years under your belt, like Dorothy, to make a difference. All it takes is the desire to help.
Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) members, like Dorothy, are a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to the scene of a disaster when called upon at any time of the day or night.
You can be trained to be part of this lifesaving work and volunteer. Across the 21-county region the Red Cross serves in Northern Illinois, volunteers respond to 3 to 4 home fires every day, providing food, shelter and comfort to more than 1,400 families affected each year in our community.
Red Cross volunteer training is free and open to the public. For more information on volunteer opportunities and to sign up go to www.redcross.org.
Written by: Eleanor Lyon, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
Photos by: Susan Westerfield, America Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer