By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer
Cynthia Skidmore climbed on a tank and felt at home. A U.S. Air Force veteran and military family member, Cynthia had recently volunteered with the American Red Cross as a member of the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) team. While assisting at a military family picnic, she climbed the tank, saw the families, remembered the times she and her husband served when their children were young, and thought, “This is awesome!” She wanted to keep helping, to reach as many as possible, and knew the effectiveness of the Red Cross’ SAF team in assisting military service members, veterans and their families.
After an exceptional Air Force career, Cynthia left in 2007 to focus on raising their five children while her husband, who was deployed in Saudi Arabia during 9/11, continued to serve. He retired from the Air Force in 2018 after 25 years, and her son Josh joined about the same time. Following the pandemic and her children becoming young adults, Cynthia, who has always been driven and full of purpose —“Going 90 MPH with [her] hair on fire”— found the house empty, felt lost and wanted to help others.
The Red Cross came to mind. Cynthia knew the tremendous feats a dedicated team can accomplish and the feeling of doing something bigger than oneself. She began volunteering with the Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley chapter in 2022 and quickly made an impact.
Cynthia brings extraordinary skills and experience to the Red Cross. Having taught chemical warfare classes and focusing on disaster management while in the Air Force, she is skilled in public speaking and understands many elements of being in an armed forces family, as a veteran, spouse, mother, daughter and granddaughter.
Cynthia’s father, who recently passed away, helped inspire her sense of purpose and drive. A U.S. Navy veteran who served during Vietnam, Cynthia’s father was giving and deeply caring, often helping others, and loved Cynthia’s work with the Red Cross, both as a volunteer and blood donor. Her grandfather was also a Navy veteran. Thus, Cynthia continues her family’s tradition of giving.
In our conversation, Cynthia spoke highly of her Red Cross team and how much can be accomplished when people work together to help others. She enjoys being part of such a team and getting things done.
When asked about her favorite volunteer experiences, she said she has many. One that stood out was assisting at a deployment briefing when several volunteers brought in dogs. Cynthia, whose family has four dogs, said the service members’ children lit up upon seeing them. The dogs helped dispel fear, brought peace, normalcy and joy.
Another favorite event is the Summit County Veterans Stand Down, where homeless and displaced veterans interview for jobs, receive haircuts, medical assistance, food, clothing and additional assistance. It is a tremendous help to those who have served and currently need assistance, and Cynthia is looking forward to the next one.
Cynthia also enjoys her regular volunteer work and being able to help, whether in person or being a compassionate voice on a telephone line.
For any veterans considering joining the Red Cross, Cynthia says volunteering is exceptionally rewarding and presents the opportunity to serve others in ways you never imagined. “It’s the next best thing to wearing a uniform,” she said.
For more information on the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces or to volunteer, please visit this link.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer