Chris Gearig takes on a multifaceted role in her chapter
By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer
Christine Gearig hails from Wauseon, Ohio, about 45 minutes due west of the Toledo
office of the American Red Cross’ Western Lake Erie Chapter (WLE). Having lived there
for 30 years, she’s used to the driving to the Toledo office, where she goes at least
twice a week.
She and a partner take turns as Disaster Action Team (DAT) supervisor and associate (SV and SA) responding to calls from fire departments for seriously damaged homes.
“One case always sticks out from the many cases we’ve been called to. It was a totally devastated home, and we were talking to this huge man, who had lost everything,” recalled Chris. “The more we talked, the more the realization crept in that he had lost it all, and tears began to well up in his eyes. I’d never seen such a large man in tears before, but we realized everyone handles grief differently.”
Chris also serves as the chapter’s Disaster Workforce Engagement (DWE) coordinator. She has created a newsletter for updates on training, recognition, and whatever else is timely for the month.
Apart from the Red Cross, Chris keeps active with two grown daughters, five
grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Add one cat, and they all keep her young.
After retiring, while watching TV, she looked at coverage of a national disaster and saw
Red Cross volunteers comforting the victims amid the destruction. She thought to
herself, “Well, I could do that. I love talking to people and being with people, so it
seemed like it would be the perfect match.” She went online, where to sign up,
and completed her application.
“Chris has been an invaluable asset to the WLE chapter,” said Deb Pressley, Disaster
Program manager. “She has taken on various roles for us, including DAT SV, DWE
coordinator, Mass Care Sheltering SA – and has most recently agreed to be our Pedro
the Penguin mascot! When Chris commits to something, I know I can depend on her
to do it thoroughly. She is dedicated, even committing to her duties while out of
town. She asks good questions and brings new ideas, especially to her role as DWE
coordinator. I really appreciate Chris and all that she brings to our team!”
When asked what she would tell someone looking for volunteer work, Chris said, “I
would tell them just to come aboard; it’s not like a permanent commitment, but just try it
out. A good friend, who is also retired, said she didn’t want to commit as much time as I
did, but she came aboard and is now a Blood Drive ambassador, working occasional
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Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross board member and volunteer