Thursday, May 5, 2016

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, May 2016

Last month, I was on a disaster response operation in Houston, Texas, as part of a Red Cross public affairs team. My job was to write articles and do interviews about the massive flooding in the area and to listen to community members to learn whether the Red Cross needed to add services or provide public education around recovery.

As I visited neighborhoods that had miles of homes where possessions were piled up outside, destroyed, and molding from the flood waters, I expected anger and fear. Many of these families' homes had been flooded already less than a year ago!

While I certainly heard frustration in voices, I mostly heard perseverance and "can-do" attitudes. One person quipped that he was getting so good at removing drywall that he was considering a career as a carpenter. And there was a lot of thankfulness for the Red Cross! There were also quite a few stories of people working together across faiths and cultures.

I have returned to East Tennessee and realized how fortunate we are to have volunteers and community leaders who also have an attitude of community resilience. Let's put that to work now by creating partnerships and training people to be prepared. Join me today by donating your time and talents to the American Red Cross!

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