Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Thank You to a Red Cross Friend

by Maggie Buckenmayer and Bob Wallace/American Red Cross

I just want to thank you my friend! You don't know how great you have been, 
This time of my life has been a strain, and I know I've probably been a pain, 
You've kept us company and safe with a smile and always go that extra mile. 
So now I thank God for sending us [to] you because your heart is pure and true. 
I'll miss your friendship when you’re gone but in my heart you'll always belong. 
Thank you Red Cross!!! 

Misty Southard and her son Nathaniel
just a few days after their ordeal
with the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge
wildfire and their stay in a Red Cross shelter. 
Misty Southard, the author of this beautiful poem, along with her family escaped the intense flames and penetrating smoke of the wildfire that recently ravaged Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas of Tennessee. After escaping the flames she, along with her husband and son Nathaniel, found respite in a Red Cross shelter. But all was not well.

“I was frantic. My son was sick and hadn’t slept in days. I didn’t know what to do,” said Misty as she described the night her son’s coughing at the Rocky Top Shelter sent her into a tizzy. “I was so lucky. David Ortiz, the Red Cross night supervisor and his crew were on duty to help.”

“I have kids myself and I can’t let them suffer. Nathaniel hadn't been able to sleep in two days. I saw Misty pacing and asked her if I could help,” said David, a Red Cross volunteer and leader of a Disaster Action Team from Monroe County, Tennessee. Once David learned of Nathaniel’s situation, he went to his truck and pulled out a jar of Vicks VapoRub and a package of herbal tea. He brewed the tea and brought it along with the VapoRub to Misty and her son. After the Vicks and tea, Nathaniel’s coughing eased up and he was finally able to fall asleep.

Misty and her family were three of the more than 1200 evacuees that sought refuge at Red Cross shelters the evening of Monday, November 29, from fires that rapidly and unexpectedly swept through the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas in what is being called the worst wildfire disaster in Tennessee in one hundred years.

Misty loves to write poems, so she surprised David with, in his words, “a hug that almost knocked the wind out of me and a poem that brought tears as she read it aloud to me.”

“I wrote this poem for the awesome Otto David Ortiz and the other Red Cross people.  My son was sick and they went the extra mile to get Vicks for my son. I'm so appreciative of everything him and everyone has done,” said Misty.

After a disaster, communities and families turn to the American Red Cross for help, and we stand ready to provide comfort and care by providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies, emotional support, and disaster health services. Trained Red Cross workers often meet one-on-one with families to develop individual plans to assist in their recovery.

You can help too by making a donation to American Red Cross disaster relief, which allows the Red Cross to respond to disasters both big and small. To make a donation go to, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation.

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