This month, the Volunteer Spotlight shines on Lawrence County volunteer, Sara Dudash.
Volunteer Position: Disaster Action Team Member, Disaster Responder
Career: Sara served more than 25 years as a state case worker for income maintenance in Lawrence County.
Years with the Red Cross: 3 years
New Year’s Resolution: “To stay healthy”
So why does the spotlight shine on Sara Dudash this month?
For many, January is not only the month to celebrate the commencement of a New Year, but also a time to form a long list of resolutions. In addition to ‘lose weight’ and ‘get into shape,’ the American Red Cross hopes that Western Pennsylvanians rank ‘volunteering’ among the most popular resolutions this year.
Our volunteer of the month, Sara Dudash, will spend another year serving her local community. Sara volunteers with the Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team Member in Lawrence County. She has spent three years with the organization and her dedication and commitment to assisting disaster victims is evident throughout the surrounding counties.
“I am always glad to help. When you respond to a house fire, the victims are often upset and confused,” said Sara. “As a Red Cross volunteer, you are there to be calm and give them reassurance, telling them that you are there to help, not only now, but in the future.”
As a DAT member, Sara provides disaster victims-most often victims of house fires- with immediate needs, including food, water and shelter as well as a shoulder to lean on.
“I tell them that this isn’t the end, but rather, the beginning to a new part of their life. I just try to give them hope,” said Sara.
The number of Red Cross volunteers serving the West Central Chapter is at an extreme low. The area is actively recruiting residents who are interested in giving back in the community.
As a nonprofit organization, the Red Cross relies on is vast volunteer network and generous donors to perform its humanitarian work. Volunteers constitute 96 percent of the Red Cross workforce. It couldn’t carry out its mission-to prevent and alleviate human suffering-without volunteers like Sara.
“(Becoming a volunteer) is a rewarding experience,” said Sara. “It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge or training. If you can just give a few hours per week of your time, you could be a valuable asset to the Red Cross.”
Sara commits 30 to 40 hours per week responding to local disasters and working with victims on their path to recovery.
She recently completed her first deployment assignment. She served as a community partnership volunteer in the Superstorm Sandy Relief Operation. Working throughout the state of New York, Sara helped ensure that distribution centers were fully equipped with relief supplies and that community organizations built effective, working relationships.
“(The deployment) was awe-inspiring. To see that many people come together to help disaster victims…I was so impressed by the commitment of our volunteers and by the range of ages in volunteers. We all had a sincere concern for the people affected by the disaster…it was definitely a positive experience.”
Sara’s sincere concern for those in need, accompanied by her steadfast dedication to the Red Cross and its mission, is why the spotlight shines brightly on her this month.
“Whenever you get involved in community service, you have a special desire to help,” said Sara. “When you are involved with Red Cross volunteers, they are naturally people who want to help, and who want to give back to the communities.”
Volunteer with your local Red Cross and give back to your community, today.
For more information, visit swpa.RedCross.org, or contact a member of the Red Cross Volunteer Services Team at 412-263-3182 or at CHWPAVolunteer@RedCross.org.