By Stephanie Gaito, Volunteer
In tough times, we all need stories to inspire us to keep pushing through challenges.
Karen Smith’s lifetime of community service is one such story.
A resident of Fair Oaks, Calif., she recently celebrated a 55-year span of volunteering with the Red Cross.
The retired registered nurse has used her professional skills and compassion for others to impact local families and individuals for decades.
She started her career as a neurosurgery intensive care nurse at Los Angeles County General Hospital, now known as Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center.
In 1964, Karen left her position to care for her growing family when her oldest son was born. Her desire to continue helping others pushed her to seek alternative volunteer opportunities that would support her schedule.
Her search led her to the Red Cross.
Karen began teaching local Mother Baby Care classes which walked new parents through newborn care essentials such as breastfeeding and bathing.
After relocating to the Sacramento area, she continued her Red Cross volunteer work even after she returned to her nursing career, working flu shot clinics and first aid stations at state and county fairs. Karen has been administering the flu shot for 25 years and has seen first-hand how accessible health care can positively impact a community.
“Fifty-five years is a great accomplishment,” said California Gold Country Region Volunteer Services Officer Jennifer Campbell. “We value the lifetime she has given for others.”
These days, Karen is working to helping to administer the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Part of my job is not just giving the shot, but making the patient feel comfortable,” she said. “What I like about it is being able to talk to people and explain to them what we are going to do. It gives me joy to see them happy that they have done something for themselves.”
When asked why she volunteers, Karen said, “I would never think of walking away if there was something I could do to help.”
With those inspirational words, we thank Karen Smith for her decades of service to help alleviate human suffering and to inspire hope in her community.