Central Coastal Chapter board member ‘leads by example’
When Rayvon Williams’ two-year term as chair of the Board of Directors of the Central Coast Chapter concluded at the end of June, it would have been understandable if he had stepped back a bit from his many American Red Cross commitments. He had, after all, already filled multiple leadership roles during eight devoted years on the board.
But that’s not Rayvon’s style. Instead of retreating, even for a short while, the energetic manager of the Watsonville Municipal Airport re-upped for another two-year term as a board officer … this time as its secretary.
“That’s so typical of Rayvon,” says Michele Averill, CEO of the Central Coast Chapter. “He saw a need, so he volunteered to fill it.”
Rayvon’s contributions to the chapter go beyond filling key leadership positions: He’s regularly promoted the importance of fundraising, he’s helped forge deeper Red Cross partnerships with the City of Watsonville and its airport, he’s served on the chapter’s Heroes Breakfast committee, and he’s hosted lifesaving Red Cross blood drives at the airport. And that’s just a starter list.
“He just shows up wherever and whenever there’s a need,” Averill says. “You can really count on Rayvon. Whether it’s his work on the board or in other areas of our service, he just leads by example.”
Rayvon was first introduced to the local Red Cross chapter by Patsy Gasca, disaster program manager for the local area, and one of her key volunteers, Craig Jenni. “I was pretty new in my position at the airport, and Patsy and Craig came out to meet with me one day to discuss the Red Cross storage arrangements there,” Rayvon says. “We met, and it seemed like a natural thing to discuss ways to make the relationship even stronger.”
Since then, Rayvon has served as a key Red Cross advocate for the airport’s WeAct emergency response group, comprised of more than two dozen local pilots who train and stand ready to fly supplies to and from other airports should the roadways into our local communities become inaccessible during an earthquake or other natural disaster.
“During the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, that’s exactly what happened,” Rayvon says. “Routes to and from the Central Coast were closed for significant periods of time, and it made getting emergency supplies to our local communities pretty difficult to do. So a number of our county’s pilots stepped forward and helped organize an aerial lifeline that helped bring in emergency supplies.”
It was the “lifeline” that the Red Cross throws to so many people in so many ways that first attracted Rayvon to the organization back in 2012. But he concedes now that he didn’t know the scope and scale of that assistance.
“I had no idea, really, of the global reach of the Red Cross,” he says. “And I had no idea of the number and commitment of the many amazing volunteers who support the organization’s work.”
The line that connects the various chapters of Rayvon’s own life — he attended the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate on an ROTC scholarship, he served his country in the Marine Corps, he earned a master’s in business administration, he worked in foreign exchange trading operations on Wall Street, and he was employed in high-tech marketing — all led him to his current position at the Watsonville airport … and a chance meeting with the local Red Cross chapter.
Then again, one gets the impression that nothing in Rayvon’s life is completely left to chance. His enthusiasm and can-do attitude make anything — and everything — seem possible.
“My wife and I get to live in Scotts Valley, we’ve successfully raised two boys who are now on their own, and I have a job in Watsonville that is stimulating,” he says. “With all of that going for me, I believe it’s incumbent on me to give back and to help others in our community.”
Which is why Rayvon Williams has found his volunteer work for the American Red Cross so purposeful and so rewarding — volunteer service that is so appreciated by the other members of his Red Cross family.
You too can volunteer: Do you want to be ready to respond when disaster strikes or help with lifesaving blood collections during the COVID-19 crisis? Learn more here about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer to meet these urgent needs.