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New volunteer is no stranger to helping

Patricia Wilson is the kind of person who always has protein bars in her car in case she meets someone in need.

Although a new volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross, Wilson is no stranger to disaster management, having responded to countless emergencies over the past two decades. Hailing from Saint John, New Brunswick, where she was a Department of Social Development caseworker for eight years, she moved to Halifax in 1985 and worked for the Nova Scotia government for 25 years in a similar role with the Department of Community Services.

“I managed a large caseload and responded to emergencies, assisting people struggling with homelessness, food insecurity, mental illness, abuse, addictions and much more.”

Patricia pictured in her Canadian Red Cross vest holding a small dog.Wilson often crossed paths with aid organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, and The Salvation Army when emergency lodging, food and other necessities were required for clients who had experienced a house fire or had to evacuate their building during an emergency. 

Following the Swissair Flight 111 disaster in 1998 where 229 passengers and crew from around the world died instantly when their aircraft crashed off Peggy’s Cove, N.S.,  she served as a logistics officer with her department, which worked closely with the Red Cross to assist the families of the victims.

“I remember late one Sunday night; things were winding down and a call came in from a Red Cross volunteer requesting white roses for a family who wanted to visit the crash site. They had lost their young daughter on the plane and wanted to place the flowers there for her. We delivered.”

Wilson also assisted after Nova Scotia was struck by Hurricane Juan in 2003 and by a massive snowstorm dubbed White Juan in early 2004, responding to all requests for food, water and emergency lodging.

When she retired a few years ago, Wilson took time to catch up with family and friends and did some travelling, but she felt always something was missing. She remembered the Canadian Red Cross.

“My mission in life is to help people struggling in all forms. That didn’t stop when I retired.”

Since she joined the emergency response team last January, Wilson has volunteered virtually from her home assisting the Red Cross in Nova Scotia in its COVID-19 response, administering the Emergency Bridge Fund, which provided a one-time payment to laid-off workers on behalf of the provincial government. More recently, in September 2020 she aided a Halifax family that lost their small home to a fire. She became moved to tears describing her experience that day.

“I helped them over the phone with emergency lodging, food, hygiene items and clothing. Not a lot of people know the Red Cross does that. It felt great to be able to help someone in their time of greatest need.”

These days, Wilson also enjoys spending time with her new puppy Maximus who has become a welcome addition and calming presence in her life.

“He’s my therapy. As long as I can, I’m going to be part of the Red Cross.”

Welcome to the team Patricia!
 
If you're interested in volunteering with us, find out more at redcross.ca/volunteer.

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