Written by David Haas
Danelle Stoppel is a local Red Cross volunteer who has been deployed to support national disasters twenty-two times, including the Boston Marathon bombing and recent Puerto Rican hurricane relief efforts. With so much experience, she has many stories to tell – often funny – but always in an emotional voice expressing gratitude for being allowed to help others.
Danelle talked recently to a group of trainees at the Red Cross Deployment lab held at Red Cross headquarters. She described participating in a tornado disaster response in Norman OK when a hurricane hit. She says that people she met there and in other locations “are more resilient than I will ever be.” While responding to fires and mudslides in California last year, she witnessed family members digging out other family members and realized that “disasters don’t discriminate – you never know when it will strike you or me.”
Danelle says that she “doesn’t know anything better than to give back through the Red Cross” and that “there are always people (on deployments) who adore giving back, and that is the essence of the Red Cross.” Volunteering with the Red Cross has made her “grateful for what I have much more than before, and a better person as well.”
She encourages volunteers to respond locally in order to qualify for national deployments. Once deployed, she encourages volunteers to understand that safety comes first, and learning to work effectively with local residents and providers comes second.