Dori Baumwart is passionate about service to others.
She is a Red Cross volunteer from Greenville, SC, assisting with sheltering in the southern part of the state during the Hurricane Matthew disaster relief operation. Dori has a smile that is contagious, and even while waiting for her shelter assignment, she constantly asks, "What else can I do for you?"
Dori traces her love of helping strangers cope with disaster to her paternal grandmother, Amy. When Amy was in her early twenties in 1912, her doctor told her she needed to leave her home in Great Britain to a warmer climate, so she booked a second-class passage on a ship headed for America. As an unmarried woman traveling alone, Amy was an oddity on the Titanic but she was excited about starting her new life.
As the Titanic sank into the cold, Atlantic waters, Amy found herself standing on the deck as the lifeboat in front of her was filled to capacity. However, a young man who had a seat saw her there, and without any pressure from other passengers, he leaped out and offered his spot to her.
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the sacrifice of this unknown gentleman," says Dori. "My grandmother eventually met and married my grandfather in the United States. What's really neat is that the survivors from the Titanic were housed at the Met Life building in New York City after the Carpathian rescued them. I worked for Met Life, so I always felt like everything came full circle."
Today, as Dori prepares to head to the shelter to care for evacuees, she proudly shares the story of how her grandmother survived so that she could pay it forward.
Story and Photos by Michelle Hankes/American Red Cross