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In her own words: First time in the field with the Canadian Red Cross

By Helga Bender, Canadian Red Cross emergency management volunteer
 “Can you deploy for the Manitoba snowstorms?” The text arrived on Saturday while I was in a crisis management class.  By Monday, I was in the air, flying to Manitoba on my first response with the Canadian Red Cross!
Helga in her Red Cross vestAs a Safety and Wellbeing responder and member of Alberta’s Emergency Response Team, I was happy I could help on the ground.  It was October 2019 and thousands of people were evacuated after a terrible snow storm had caused massive power outages.
First, I arrived in Brandon, just as evacuees learned their power was restored. They were excited and happy to be heading home.  We pitched in to pack up the reception centre and take inventory before driving to our next assignment at the Winnipeg shelter and reception centre.  Together with my talented new Red Cross travelling companions from across Canada, we laughed and sang all the Golden Oldies we knew during the two-hour drive!

In Winnipeg, I looked, listened, and checked in with people about how they were feeling and coping and helped link and refer them to community resources as needed.   We worked with our partner hotels to ensure peoples’ unique needs were met.

It was a privilege to work with wonderful volunteers from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island, as well as many Winnipeg volunteers.  We pulled together to make a difference in the lives of the people in a difficult situation. We were happy to be there for residents, who told us: 
  • “Thanks so much. I don’t know what we would have done with out your help.”
  • “Everyone was so fantastic when we really needed help.”
  • “I appreciate all what you did, and I want to do it for others too. How do I volunteer?”
To that, I would like to add my thanks. Thanks to Canadian Red Cross for all the help they extend to people in crisis and personally, thanks for the opportunity to be of service!

The Canadian Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. Learn more at
 or email
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