By Alicia Dorr
Evelyn McMahon has always been a connector. She likes helping people gain access to resources, to provide them with support, to listen to them and help them navigate barriers so that they can live healthier, happier lives. That’s why she says she loves serving as a Community Engagement and Partnerships (CEP) volunteer. Evelyn has taken on this role as a part of the response to the Mosquito fire and the Mill fire in Northern California.
“It is very gratifying work,” Evelyn says. “When you connect a person who has a need to something that will make a difference – it’s just wonderful.”
As a CEP volunteer, Evelyn is constantly interacting with community organizations, businesses, churches, local authorities and more to ensure residents affected by the wildfires get everything they need to get back on their feet. She IDs all of the resources in the community and gives that information and help to residents who may not have known what was available to them.
“We help agencies and partners in the community understand what people need, too. We thank them for the support and help them understand the extent of the need so we can coordinate,” Evelyn explains.
This was especially important in the case of the Mill fire. Evelyn says she feels really privileged to have worked with in Weed, California. Within the town is an area called Lincoln Heights, a historically black community settled by black lumber mill workers in the 1920s. The Mill fire is believed to have sparked near the Roseburg Forest Products lumber mill, just down the road from Lincoln Heights, where the quick-moving flames destroyed or damaged a significant number of homes. Evelyn says despite the devastation, the community is incredibly resilient.
“They want to move back. When you look in their faces, you see hope,” Evelyn says. “So we’re going to do what we have to do to get them what they need.”
She and other Red Crossers gathered information about all of the affected families and learned what was lost and what benefits were available. Evelyn worked with local officials, agencies, churches, community centers and more to connect them to everything from replacing lost medical supplies to options for long-term shelter.
Evelyn is passionate about the work because she says she sees the difference it makes, every day. Whether she’s working to help people after a disaster like a wildfire or she is in her home state of North Carolina doing day to day connection to resources after home fires, she says volunteering with the Red Cross is definitely worth it – and she recommends it to anyone.
“If you like helping people even a little bit, you will love being a volunteer for Red Cross.”
To find out more about the Red Cross mission and what volunteer roles might interest you visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.