By: Diana Coulter, American Red Cross, Bucksport, South Carolina
Ruth Bronoske is a new Red Cross recruit. She volunteered to help just days after Hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina because she knows what it’s like to struggle.
Twelve years ago, Ruth was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that she continues to battle. But she has made miraculous progress since moving to South Carolina. And now, she is determined to give back to her new community.
“We lost power for three and a half days after the storm, but so many other people were in such bad shape that I checked with Red Cross to see how we could help.”
Since then, Ruth has assisted at two Red Cross shelters, one in Mullins and the other at Bucksport,
while her husband,
Ray, has worked at a distribution centre in Myrtle Beach loading relief items
such food, water and cleanup supplies.
“I know what it’s like to face hard times,” explained Ruth. That’s because, in 2009, doctors were convinced Ruth would die soon. “They were writing things like “end-stage” on all my medical paperwork.”
Determined to have a final family holiday, the couple and two sons drove from their Ohio home to Myrtle Beach. Ruth remembers being so weak at first that she needed help walking through the sand, but after a week, she was playing football in the ocean.“Suddenly, I was just feeling so well again. It really seemed like a miracle.”
Days before the family planned to drive home, Ruth recalls telling her husband that she might be better able to fight her illness if they moved permanently to the beach. “He just said, okay. Let’s give this to God...And within a few months, we had moved, found a new place to live, and a job here.”
Since then, her health has improved dramatically, although she continues to have regular chemotherapy injections.
“A lot of people with health challenges just stop living, but I've figured out that it’s best to keep giving back in any way I can, and volunteering with Red Cross is another great way to do that.”
To date, about 1,200 Red Cross workers have assisted in South Carolina since the hurricane.