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Canadian Red Cross volunteer recalls wartime service and giving back since

By Nicole Herback
It’s humbling to speak with someone who refers to the Second World War as simply “the war,” as a real experience not out of a history textbook. For Red Cross volunteer Joan Chapella, this reality is simply a chapter in an exciting life that has taken her across the globe.
Joan was born in 1928 near Liverpool, England, where she began a long and successful career in nursing.
Joan began volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross in 2005 following a call for volunteers after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami“I try to help wherever I can,” Joan says. This has been true her whole life. During the Second World War when Joan was evacuated for three years, she began doing bandaging for the army. Perhaps this inspired Joan to pursue a career in the health field.
Joan made a fortuitous friendship with a Canadian following a year of work in Bermuda that took her on her next adventure. She began in Montreal, continued to Winnipeg, and finally settled in Calgary.
“I thought, well, I’ve gotta keep going.”
But how was Calgary lucky enough to pin Joan down? Available residencies for nurses at the time enticed her to stay. Joan also married in Calgary in 1962.
Joan has been volunteering ever since she retired in 1998. Between the Calgary International Airport, Calgary Food Bank and other roles, she has certainly kept busy in her retirement.
“I’ve had to give up a lot of volunteering because I simply don’t have time.”
Joan began volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross in 2005 following a call for volunteers after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
During 11 years with Red Cross, Joan has taken on finance roles including cash records, money deposits and other banking, all of which she thoroughly enjoys.
“I enjoy being with people and I enjoy working with the crowd at the Red Cross. To me, they’re family.”
When asked if she would ever change her volunteer role from finance to health, she chuckles.
“After 60 years of health, I think I’ve had enough.”
For more information on volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross, visit
Read more about Canadian Red Cross volunteers in the Second World War, such as the Canadian Red Cross Corps (CRCC) or Far East Welfare Team (FEWT), who represented Canada and the Red Cross in wartime service overseas. The CRCC was created during the Second World War, and members served overseas in Britain or continental Europe; while others were stationed in Newfoundland (a separate country until 1949). They drove ambulances, served in hospitals, canteens, and Red Cross offices, and attended to the welfare of sick and wounded military personnel.
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