Monday, June 15, 2015

Sumter Volunteer Heather Pearson Returns from Flood-ravaged Texas with Spirits not Dampened, but Emboldened

Pins and mementos from Houston, Massachusetts, and more.
Heather Pearson's cheerful, engaging disposition would never lead one to believe that she just got off a three hour flight from Houston, Texas, where she spent the last fourteen days working at all hours to support a the recovery of a community over one thousand miles away. As a volunteer with the American Red Cross, she visited Texas flood victims and provided them with resources, referrals, and emotional support.

She described flood victims when she and her team arrived. "Their facial expressions completely changed when they saw that we were with the Red Cross," she said. "Many of them had positive experiences with the Red Cross, so they knew we were there to help. They could count on us."

This was Heather's first deployment, though she has been an active volunteer for three years. She was first introduced to Red Cross Volunteers when she served as a firefighter. To her, getting involved with the Red Cross was a result of seeing volunteers in action after home fires and researching emergency response organizations during her Masters in Emergency and Disaster Management coursework. "The Red Cross has the best record for response," she said. "I said yes to the opportunity to go to Texas and work with other volunteers. I went to make a difference, to make people smile, and to let them know the American Red Cross cares."

Pearson worked with outreach and client care while in Texas, making home visits to disaster victims. In addition to connecting with the Houston community, she discussed the camaraderie that exists between fellow Red Crossers. Many of the seasoned volunteers offered her pins from their home states as tokens of the progress they'd made in the community and their new friendships.

Heather urges others to volunteer with the Red Cross. "My experience far exceeded any expectations I had before going," she said. "Everyone should volunteer if it's possible. Even an hour could make a difference."

Heather is a volunteer with the Sandhills-Sumter office of the Central SC Chapter of the Red Cross. We thank her and our twenty-eight volunteers who represented the Palmetto SC Region following the disasters in Texas and Oklahoma.

For more information about becoming a Red Cross volunteer or email the Central SC volunteer manager Erin Tyler at

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