National Volunteer Week Profile: Dave and Dotti Penny

Topics: National, Prince Edward Island, Volunteer
April 10, 2015

This week, the Canadian Red Cross celebrates all volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 12-18, 2015.   

Whether it’s running their own business, raising four children, helping house fire survivors on Prince Edward Island, or travelling for months together in a mobile home, Dave and Dotti Penny simply love sharing life together.

That’s why they were especially pleased to discover that both the Canadian and American Red Cross are happy to have couples working as disaster management volunteers.

“It’s been really good that Red Cross allows us to volunteer together,” explains Dotti, 66. “We really wanted to help and for us, this makes it so much easier and better that we can share these experiences as a couple.”

Originally from New Hampshire in the United States, the Pennys first volunteered for the American Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina struck eastern coastal states in 2005. Deployed to Louisiana, they visited clients’ homes offering emergency assistance. 

 “When Katrina hit, of course we wanted to help,” explains Dave, 65. “Having operated our own insurance company together, we also had some experience dealing with people affected by disaster, so it was nice to be able to assist in this way.”

A year later, the retired couple moved to P.E.I, having fallen in love with a riverside property there while on vacation. Before long, they approached the local Canadian Red Cross office about volunteering on the island, too. Since then, they have split their time between P.E.I and New Hampshire, and estimate they have assisted together at about 40 local disasters, mostly house fires. They have also found time to meander in their motor home between adult children scattered around the U.S. 

Sometimes on their travels, they stop to offer help at Red Cross offices. “Once in North Carolina, we just knocked on the door and they welcomed us with open arms and gave us things to do,” Dave recalls.

Volunteering for Red Cross continues to be “very rewarding,” adds Dotti. “In fact, it feels like we often get more out of it, than we put in.” For example, she says their network of P.E.I. friends has largely formed around people met through Red Cross. “I guess we just have similar goals. They tend to be very nice, giving people.”

It is because of volunteers like Dave and Dotti, that the Canadian Red Cross is able to deliver services to the most vulnerable communities from coast to coast across Canada.

Thank you, Dave and Dotti.