When a disaster strikes, Red Cross volunteers work around the clock to provide food, comfort, and shelter for disaster victims. Dorothy Dodendorf, a disaster workforce volunteer, is one of the many volunteers who assists in disaster relief behind the scenes. In her staff relations position, she helps guide and support Red Cross volunteers with any hurdles they encounter.
Dorothy recalls being associated with the Red Cross as early as junior high. She took First Aid, babysitting, and home nursing courses that the Red Cross offered at the time. She was also part of the Red Cross youth club in high school, but her life-long commitment started years later after graduating from college and getting married.
Since Dorothy couldn’t donate blood while she was pregnant, she did the next best thing she could by becoming a blood service ambassador for the Red Cross. Since then Dorothy has volunteered in various positions including but not limited to: disaster instructor, pillowcase project trainer, and disaster workforce engagement specialist.
Dorothy’s very first deployment was to Florida in 1992 to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Andrew. One of her more recent deployments include a three-week deployment to North Carolina for Hurricane Florence relief efforts. When asked how many times she’s been deployed, Dorothy stated, “I have no idea, I lost count years ago, but definitely well over 30.”
“When I sit on the plane, and look out the window and see the disaster from above, I realize how much more still needs to be done,” said Dorothy about the most challenging aspect of deployment for her, leaving. She describes this moment as bittersweet because she knows she helped as much as she could while there, but realizes how much more work is still required.
When asked if Dorothy would consider being deployed again, she responded saying, “Definitely, I’ve been doing this for 48 years, and I’m shooting for 50!”
Written by Adisa Suljic, Communications Intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois