Inspired by the Legacy of Service at the Red Cross

Melissa Bradley3Melissa Bradley signed up to volunteer with the American Red Cross only six weeks ago. She’s already hooked. “I love it,” she says. “I have so much respect for the people I’ve met along the way, especially the people working on the disaster response team.”

Melissa spent recent months volunteering throughout the community. She decided to look into the Red Cross with a visit to the office in San Rafael. “I own a real estate firm with 400 people working for me,” Melissa notes. “I figured that people and project management would come easy, and it would be neat to put some of these skills to good use.” She met with Volunteer and Youth Services Engagement Manager Eva Marquez and was off and running. She immediately renewed her CPR and first aid certification and worked on the Sound the Alarm campaign for earthquake and fire preparedness. She worked with people from all walks of life whose years, sometimes decades, of service inspired her beyond measure. Before long, she found herself in a shelter management class.

It was there that the stakes went up.

Two days before Melissa’s class, the Mendocino Complex fires flared. A member from the disaster response team came into the class looking for someone to do an overnight shift in a shelter in Kelseyville. Melissa volunteered and deployed immediately. The shelter, only 10 minutes from the fires, served as home base for local residents, many of whom were elderly and disabled. The anxiety was high and the shock palpable. Melissa says her own experience with shock and PTSD gave her the experience to relate and care for the clients. And when the relief shift volunteers came in at 7AM, Melissa had been awake for nearly 27 hours. She recalls: “These were people with the greatest of needs. I really enjoyed being able to help.”

Since her deployment, Melissa has volunteered at the San Rafael office, staffing the front desk. She’s signed up for a class to learn to drive an Emergency Response Vehicle and can’t wait to get behind the wheel. But it’s the Red Cross volunteers that continue to drive her forward. “I met a gentleman who worked for the Red Cross, retired, and then became a volunteer,” she shares. “That says so much about the organization. There’s so much good energy around this effort. I really like it, and I’m definitely going to do more.”