National Volunteer Week profile: Marie-Ève Charest

Topics: National, Quebec, Volunteer
April 10, 2014

This week, the Canadian Red Cross celebrates all volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014.

Marie-Ève Charest is an elementary school teacher in Val-Racine, Québec, located 25 minutes away from Lac-Mégantic. After seeing a Red Cross volunteer recruitment ad in her local newspaper, she decided to become a volunteer.

During the night of July 6, 2013, she received her first deployment call.The response to the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic was Marie-Ève’s first experience as a Disaster Management volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross.

It all started with a call from Gabrielle, a fellow Red Cross volunteer. “Marie-Ève, something has happened in Lac-Mégantic. The downtown exploded,” she said.  Marie-Ève immediately packed her Red Cross bag and woke up her boyfriend to explain the situation.

As she was leaving the house, she saw that the sky was tinted red. She proceeded to the high school which was empty at the time. There were only a few volunteers ready to help those who were affected by the tragedy.

As people started to arrive, people were crying and looking for their loved ones. “I remember seeing so much fear and worry in their eyes,” Marie-Ève said.

Marie-Ève and other Red Cross volunteers preceded to hand out blankets and comfort those who had been evacuated from their homes. As more people from the community arrived, Marie-Ève noticed many people she knew. They began to recount what they had just been through, which was really hard for Marie-Ève to hear.

“I will always remember July 6, 2013. Although it’s not a good memory, I will remember it as my first response with the Canadian Red Cross,” she says.  “It was a major tragedy in my own city, which I never thought could happen. However, something that I often think about is how incredibly organized the Red Cross is and how they are able to respond to these types of disasters. Now I know how amazing the work of the Red Cross is when communities experience difficult times such as the Lac-Mégantic train derailment,” she added.

It is because of volunteers like Marie-Ève that the Canadian Red Cross is able to deliver services to the most vulnerable communities from coast to coast across Canada.

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