Lily Leduc’s father came to live with her in 2017. She wanted to learn how to best care for him, so she took a certified nursing assistant training course, offered by the American Red Cross.
Now, Lily volunteers for the Red Cross in the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois chapter, where she is very involved in chapter activities and disaster responses.
“It’s my way of giving back to the Red Cross, because the training I got at that time was so valuable and it made life better for my father and myself, when he was living with us. So, that’s really my ‘why’ is to give back because I felt they gave so much to me,” said Lily.
Lily has deployed three times since joining the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2021. Most recently, the former resident of Florida returned to that state to help people affected by Hurricane Ian.
During her two-week deployment, Lily served as a supervisor for teams going door to door in Estero Beach, looking for people to offer assistance to, whose homes had been heavily damaged or destroyed.
“It’s like nothing really you’ve ever seen. You could smell the mold and mildew, as you came up to the houses,” she said. “You find people and they just want to tell you their stories, and we just heard some terrible stories.”
Lily recalls the story an 83-year-old man told her, of climbing into his attic with his two cats, to escape the rising water. “He rode that out for 20 hours, he watched his wife’s ashes float off. Just terrible stories – they just want to talk and they’re just glad to see somebody.”
Lily described her deployment following the tragic event that took place in Highland Park, IL this past summer as her most difficult one.
“To hear the people talk and you could feel the fear they were trying to relay; it’s just unimaginable, you can’t even wrap your head around it,” said Lily about her role as a caseworker, talking with those affected by the event.
“If I was in that situation, I would want someone there for me. That’s what I get back out of it. I just think, if that was me, I would want someone to be there to help me when I need help.”
While the experiences can be challenging, Lily enjoys volunteering for the Red Cross and enjoys meeting new people as part of the experience.
“I love new volunteers, and I just want to tell them, ‘Hey, there’s so much you can do.’ A lot of people don’t realize what the Red Cross does,” Lily said. “When we get a new volunteer, I’m like, ‘Look at all of these things you can do. There’s just so much you can do.'”
Thanks for all you do, Lily! Visit redcross.org/volunteer to join the team as a volunteer.
Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen