Central Coast Chapter Volunteer of the Year Megan Erk says love of community led her to the American Red Cross
By Marcia Antipa
“Showing kindness and getting help to people that need it without regard to anything else – that is how I was brought up.”
Megan Erk – the Volunteer of the Year for the Central Coast Chapter – credits her father for inspiring her dedication to the community. He was a military man who brought his daughter along on volunteer projects.
“I kind of grew up in that environment where people just volunteered in the community to help out.”
Now Megan is taking on multiple roles with the American Red Cross. From hurricanes to wildfires, from blood drives to blog articles, Central Coast Chapter CEO Michele Averill says Megan has more than earned her award.
If Irene Johnson could live her life to perfection, she would be guided by the Seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. “The principles really resonated with me. I really do believe in the Red Cross mission,” she said.
Those principles have served Irene well over her many years as a Red Cross volunteer where she’s participated in 26 disaster response deployments including Hurricane Katrina (2005), the Napa/Sonoma New Year’s flood (2006), Superstorm Sandy (2012), the Alberta wildfires (2016) and Hurricane Irma (2017), to name a few.
Irene’s Red Cross career began in Vietnam during the war. Living in Saigon in 1967, Irene volunteered at an army hospital where she would deliver books to bedridden soldiers. She speaks fondly of that first experience. “The guys that were almost well enough to leave would go to the recreation room and taught me how to play pool.”
Janet Packer, right, recipient of a Clara Barton Award, is pictured with Michele Averill, CEO of the Central Coast Chapter. (Photo: Jim Hobbs)
One early morning in 2005, Janet Packer watched from her home in Aptos, California as the devastation of Hurricane Katrina played out on the TV news. Packer was immediately moved to respond, driving to the American Red Cross’s Santa Cruz office and arriving just as the doors opened at 8:30 a.m. “I’ll do anything you need me to do,” she said. Read more
Cheryl Powell, Joanne Hagerty, and Sid Matlock deployed out of the chapter’s Carmel office.
The Central Coast Chapter, in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Florence, has deployed 7 volunteers to support sheltering, transportation, and feeding. The Volunteers deploying with a combined 40 deployments under their belts are Jay Dravich, John Crepeau, Joanne Hagerty, Sid Matlock, Cheryl Powell, Frances Rinaldo, and John Delange. All have agreed to a minimum 2-week assignment. Read more
In 2017, Puerto Rico was hit with two strong hurricanes that devastated the island. One hundred percent of the population was without power, and many were without water or a safe consistent food source. The American Red Cross put out a call for disaster worker volunteers who have experience working in third world environments; they specifically sought returned Peace Corps volunteers, of which I am one. Read more