When disaster strikes and lives are shattered, the American Red Cross is there to pick up the pieces.
"We always offer shelter. We offer food," said Regional Communications Officer Tammie Pech.
And this year was out of the ordinary.
"The last year, 18 months, has been really busy for the Red Cross. Not just here in Iowa, but across the nation," said Pech.
The Red Cross had 113 large responses in 42 states. First, it was devastating tornadoes in the middle of the country. Then, summer brought scorching wildfires to the west, and hurricanes to the south and east coasts. The Red Cross says Superstorm Sandy alone was their biggest US response in five years.
In all, they handed out 6.8 million relief items, and gave about 110 thousand overnight stays. But it wouldn't have happened without volunteers.
"I think it's my turn to do the helping, myself," said Red Cross Volunteer Maurice Evans.
In August, we met Sioux City Red Cross Volunteer Maurice Evans. He was headed to New Orleans before Hurricane Isaac struck.
"I just hope to go down there and help whoever I can, whenever I can," said Evans.
Evans is one of more than 150 volunteers at the Sioux City chapter. And they could always use more help.
"They can decide if they want to stay local, that is an amazing way to help us out. If they want to do anything larger, we have our emergency response vehicle, we have mental heath workers, nurses, communications. Anything anybody is interested in doing," said Pech.
Pech has worked for the American Red Cross in Siouxland for four years, and is currently the region's communications officer.
In a few weeks, Pech will leave for Vilseck, Germany, where she'll take up a new role as the Red Cross assistant station manager at US Army base, Rose Barracks. Pech will be helping military service members contact loved ones, or head home for family emergencies.
She sees it as a great career opportunity.
"It's a step for my personal career. Basically, you have to do your time overseas to do something bigger and better within the Red Cross. It's something I'm really excited for, to take a step forward, and take a step out of Iowa," said Pech.
Before the Red Cross, Pech was in banking for 14 years. She says the Red Cross will fill her vacant communication position as soon as possible.
If you want details on how to volunteer with the Red Cross, click here.
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