By Kim Mailes, American Red Cross public affairs volunteer
For Frieda Ingram, right now “home” is a cot in the American Red Cross emergency shelter in Reno, Nevada. Despite being evacuated from the South Lake Tahoe when wildfires approached her apartment, she’s all smiles and maintains a positive attitude. This is just another bump in a long road that’s been filled with obstacles.
“I’m so grateful for the Red Cross,” she said. “I know I’ll be safe here until this is over.”
Born in the former Dutch East Indies after World War II, Frieda’s father was Dutch and her mother Indonesian. Post-war conditions had made it impossible for her father to continue his career there, so the family moved to Holland. She recalls her childhood with great fondness and said her stay at the Red Cross shelter triggered a pleasant memory she hadn’t thought of in over sixty years.
For a short time after returning to Holland, Freida lived at an orphanage when her brother was facing a serious illness.
“The orphanage was set up much like this shelter, with long rows of cots. And there were friendly people taking care of me, with plenty of food. I felt safe, and I remember the friends I made and how happily we played together.”
When her brother recovered, the family reunited and soon immigrated to America. Though just a young girl at the time, she recalls standing on the deck of the huge ocean liner when the Statue of Liberty came into view.
Though her father was a trained engineer, he worked whatever jobs were available in New York until eventually finding employment in his profession. Through all those difficult days, she recalls, her parents kept assuring her that all would eventually be well. Perhaps that forged in her the resiliency to meet this newest challenge.
“I’ll get through this just fine,” Frieda said. “It’s a great comfort to me to know that the Red Cross is taking care of everything I need.”
To learn more about how the Red Cross is responding to disasters across the country, and how you can help, please visit redcross.org.