The Knowles put ‘together’ in teamwork

By Debbi Behrman

Jane and Carl Knowles

On April 1, 2021, the American Red Cross Heart of the Valley Chapter honored Carl and Jane Knowles for their hard work and dedication at the annual volunteer recognition event (held virtually due to COVID-19 precautions). Located in San Joaquin County, this amazing couple collectively put in over 1,200 volunteer hours in 2020 in various locations and activities, despite a pandemic and quarantine requirements.

For Jane and Carl, 2020 was packed. They worked in disaster assessment for the Lake Berryessa area and served food during the Santa Cruz fires. Jane sewed 450 masks for family, friends, SAF (Service to Armed Forces) and a neighborhood school. Then the Knowles transported large quantities of blood donations, often working double shifts five days a week to compensate for the reduction in volunteer drivers due to COVID-19.

Working jointly enabled the Knowles to take on the double shifts and long drives necessary to get blood where it needed to go. “We will have been married 57 years in August, so we do things together,” said Jane. “Since we’re both retired it works well and easily.” When working on transport, the couple would take a double shift and take turns driving. Teamwork all the way! They have also served in mass care as a unit, driven ERV’s cross country on several occasions and trained new drivers for blood delivery.

Jane and Carl joined the Red Cross in 2005. They originally signed up to volunteer for Hurricane Katrina support, but by the time they finished training, they were deployed to help with Rita instead. “Katrina just tore me apart,” Jane recalled. “Throwing money at a situation like that doesn’t work; we wanted to be a part of doing something about it so we went straight to Red Cross and volunteered.”

The Knowles continue to transport blood three days a week and recently expanded into feeding on a more local basis. They still go out regionally, district-wide and nationally, but they are committed to local feeding in case of local disasters on a massive scale. One of their current key tasks is to line up new restaurants to partner for upcoming fire season.

When asked what they liked most about volunteering with the Red Cross, Jane responded: “Its super rewarding to be doing something of value; to help people. We are both very people-oriented, and rather than do inventory or finances, it’s the people contact that’s been the most rewarding to me.” Carl added, “I wanted to be able to serve, but in a low key, no pressure way, and volunteering for the Red Cross has been quite easy that way.”

To those considering volunteering with the Red Cross Jane said, “Their time is desperately needed; there is always something to do.” Carl summed it up this way: “It’s ready-made for anybody who is retired or close to retirement because you can book it according to your schedule.”

Red Crossers to their core, Carl and Jane even sent Red Cross Christmas cards! Congratulations Carl and Jane, on the well-deserved recognition!

Debbi Behrman is a public affairs volunteer with the North Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross.