By Courtney Lynn, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer

Over two years ago, Nicole Greville was one of more than 80,000 Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo residents impacted by devastating forest fires. When she returned to Fort McMurray weeks after being evacuated, she felt restless and sidelined. She decided to become a walk-in volunteer for the Canadian Red Cross. “It was empowering to be able to help my neighbours during this time and offer a familiar face.”

Volunteer holding teddy bear smiling.Her experience put her on a pathway of volunteerism that continues today. Now, Nicole is a Personal Disaster Assistance Team Supervisor. She is part of a team that responds locally and remotely to personal disasters impacting 25 people or less, such as house fires or floods. Volunteers help people meet their basic needs in the wake of crises and proactively educate the public about disaster preparedness through ‘Be Prepared’ events and promotion of the Be Ready app.

Nicole’s enduring spirit and community involvement have affected her own life as much as they have the lives of others. From helping her cope in the aftermath of the 2016 fires, her volunteer roles have enabled her to connect with her community in a whole new way. “There’s this feeling I get when I’m volunteering and it’s uplifting. Whether I get to be on the frontline or supporting a project that has a long-term outcome, there’s a good feeling that you could positively impact someone’s life.”

It hasn’t always been easy. When thinking back to the fires, Nicole admits that she still encounters difficult times and memories. “There will always be scars of the fire, but how we heal is an individual experience.” Her volunteer work helps. “Connection is key, especially during difficult times. Throughout the time of the fire and since, there have been strong community connections. I think that there are connections now that may not have been there without the fire.”
volunteers helping in community
Nicole plans to keep building connections and giving back to the community. She balances a day job as a Family Violence Outreach Manager at Waypoints with her volunteer work for the Canadian Red Cross.  “I want to help in positive ways, working with communities and sharing what I have learned along the way.”

Learn how you can volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross today.