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Volunteer admires the power of community in disaster responses

By Chenoa Sly / Photo courtesy: Brenna Brown
 
Brenna Brown loves the way the community comes together in a disaster. “You meet a lot of great people doing this work.”
 
Brenna Brown is a Disaster Management Volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross.Brenna Brown is a Disaster Management volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. She was most recently involved in the Alberta Fires response, setting up emergency reception centres and shelters in Calgary and Edmonton to provide services for the thousands of evacuees from Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
 
Brenna’s employer, Paracel Laboratories, allowed her to take two weeks of paid leave to respond to the fires and recently honoured her with an award for leadership for this work.
 
This was not Brenna’s first large response, much like many of her fellow volunteers on the Disaster Management team. She has participated in the 2011 northern Alberta wildfires response, the 2013 southern Alberta floods response, and the 2015 Saskatchewan forest fires response. For Brenna, her previous experience made a difference. She noted, “The team in Alberta had the experience to react more quickly and in a more organized way to the Alberta Fires than they may have been able to otherwise.”
 
The devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 prompted Brenna to volunteer with the Red Cross. She got involved because of the reputation of the Red Cross for getting involved in communities to help on what can be the worst days of peoples’ lives. She continues because of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross. “You really start to internalize them,” says Brenna.

In 2010, Brenna was accepting donations for the response in Haiti. A girl, only 5 years old, had seen the children in Haiti on television and wanted to help by donating her birthday money. With Brenna’s help, the girl counted out $67.15. “That’s not an insignificant amount of money,” Brenna remarked.
 
This display of humanity from a child has stuck with Brenna. Brenna finds herself continually inspired by the power of humanity. She loves the way that the community comes together in a disaster. The work is “Sometimes hard, sometimes stressful,” she says, “but always rewarding. You really see the best of humanity in this work.”

Learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Canadian Red Cross.
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