By Andrea Mendoza
For Donna Logan, the call to help came after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. The devastation that this natural disaster left in the state of Louisiana and nearby states — and the effect that it had on the country as a whole — was enough inspiration for Logan to get involved with the Red Cross. She had been retired for about a year, and Logan was looking for causes in San Francisco with which she could get involved. With a master’s degree in organizational development and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, Logan hoped to find a position in which she could use her experience and skills.
As a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Donna Logan has more than done that. And this year, she was honored for her many contributions and compassionate work when she received a Clara Barton Award at the annual Volunteer Recognition Event for San Francisco volunteers. Named after the organization’s founder, the award recognizes a Red Cross volunteer for service in a series of leadership positions held over a number of years.
“I got heavily involved when the Red Cross lost a lot of its primary staff because of budget cuts,” said Logan. “I realized that we had basic organization building to do so I ended up becoming a full-time volunteer at the office in client casework.” This opportunity would lead Logan to other areas within the Red Cross until she eventually became the Disaster Chair. To her, seeing a lot of things accomplished and overcoming barriers within the organization is very rewarding.
According to Logan, what she likes best about her work is “the opportunity to take some initiative to make some improvements in different places,” as well as the opportunity to “be with individual families and being able to give a little boost to a situation in a time of crisis.” This is done by providing the basics that people need such as shelter, food, and comfort.
Logan believes that the Red Cross can provide a certain amount of support, but the more prepared people are, the easier it will be to recover from devastating disasters such as Katrina. This is what her unit strives to do, to better prepare people for a fast recovery.
Logan’s problem-solving skills continue to be in demand. “It’s always a challenge because our volunteer base fluctuates as does the leadership in our partner organizations.” Logan’s team takes on a great deal of the partnership building in San Francisco, and she believes that it “has become increasingly more important to try to get more and more people to support recovery efforts.”
Despite facing these challenges, it is the human interactions that Logan has appreciated the most during the years that she has been with the Red Cross. One particular memory she values is that of Mrs. Cooper, a woman who, despite losing everything to a fire, still found it within herself to give back and do something positive by fostering disabled children. For Logan, Mrs. Cooper symbolized finding strength through adversity, and she was very proud to have helped Mrs. Cooper recover after the fire had disrupted her life. “Probably the most important thing that you can do is sit down and try to bring some sense of order so the people can begin to think positively on how to move forward,” says Logan.
When asked what it meant to be a recipient of the Clara Barton Award, Logan said she only hopes that this helps to highlight what people can do for others. She believes the work to be gratifying and purposeful, not only for her but the community as a whole. “[I hope] it brings attention to the kind of work we can do, [so that] somebody else might take notice and look at the work beyond the person,” says Logan. “I’m just one person in a really large community.”
About the author: Andrea Mendoza is interning with the American Red Cross in the Santa Rosa office.
Become a Red Cross Volunteer: You can make a difference in San Francisco by becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross. Volunteers constitute about 94 percent of the total Red Cross workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. Red Cross volunteers are trained to meet the needs of those affected by disasters, providing food, shelter, and comfort for families affected by major disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes as well as helping local residents prepare for and recover from emergencies of all kinds. We’ll find the position that appeals to you and allows you to use your skills and talents. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.