Helping when it’s most needed

Josh Booth has been a Red Cross volunteer for seven years now and still enjoys making a difference by serving his community in a capacity that provides help when it’s most needed.

Question: How did you get started as a Red Cross volunteer?

Answer: Jo Seyler (late former executive director of the Washington County Chapter) persuaded me to get involved. I started in 2006 working with military family support groups. We would provide refreshments for the families who came together to share experiences and encourage each other.

Q: It must have been a positive experience for your first volunteer effort.

A: I loved it-meeting people and being part of something greater than yourself. We don’t operate a military family program anymore, but it was very rewarding for me.

Q: You’ve stayed on to volunteer with the Red Cross in other capacities since that time?

A: I like being able to help people who are truly in need. As a volunteer I may get called out for an emergency like a fire at any time during the day-it could be 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. But when a family’s house burns down they often have nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Everything they’ve worked for all their lives and all their belongings are gone. To be able to help those people is great. We may never hear from them again, but you know they really appreciate even the smallest effort.

Q: You are also a registered nurse by profession. Does that also help as you volunteer?

A: I organize nurses for our first aid station at the annual Sternwheel Festival. We have an air-conditioned trailer at the festival where people can come inside if they need first aid treatment or just get overheated and need a place to recover. But we also try to provide first aid stations for other events where they’re needed. And we can always use volunteer RNs, LPNs, EMTs, or paramedics.

Q: Since becoming a volunteer you have also become a Red Cross board member.

A: Yes. Our main focus as a board has been fundraising. The services we provide for fire victims and others are free to them, but not for us. So we put together three main fundraisers every year, including a golf outing in May, a ‘purse outing’ in February, and our newest event, ‘Dancing with the Washington County Stars’ in November. We didn’t know how the dancing event would do, but it worked out really well and was a successful fundraiser.

Q: Would you encourage others to volunteer?

A: Definitely. But it’s much more than just working as a volunteer. It’s rewarding to know you’ve helped someone. And it’s not always about going out on fire calls at all hours. There’s a need for people to help with the upkeep of the office or to help inventory supplies. We also provide refreshment at the scene for firefighters or other emergency responders. Whether you can volunteer just two or three hours a week or more, we can always use the help.

Sam Shawver conducted this interview.