Time to help: Red Cross Volunteer Rudy Ambtman

By: Michelle Palansky, communications advisor
A man standing in front of a dark background with a Canadian Red Cross vest onAs volunteers, we all give what we can when we can. The Canadian Red Cross could not help those in need without this support and volunteer Rudy Ambtman from Manitoba has a lot to give.
“Rudy is a safety and wellbeing volunteer who volunteered every second day through the whole wildfire response. His dedication and work as a volunteer are admirable,” says Bobbi Yuzark, emergency management coordinator.
That bears repeating. Since December 2020, aside from some small breaks, Rudy, pictured right, has worked as a safety and wellbeing volunteer every other day, for one year and counting.
In that time, he supported wildfire evacuees from seven First Nation communities. He continues to support people isolating at a Winnipeg hotel due to COVID-19, because they cannot isolate in community.
Rudy explains, “I enjoy the work, and I’ve got the time, being retired. And with COVID, you don’t do any travelling anymore, so lots of time.”
A psychologist by training, he worked as a manager for the past 30 years.
“One of the reasons I wanted to be a safety and wellbeing volunteer was so I could interact directly with people,” he says.
Safety and wellbeing volunteers watch for issues and provide referrals for people if professional help is required. But sometimes it’s the smallest things that make all the difference.
Rudy recalls one gentleman he was helping who was very agitated. When asked what he would do to settle himself, he told Rudy that his girlfriend would read to him from the Bible.
“Now, I'm not a religious person at all, but he mentioned some particular passage that normally would make him feel good. So, I read it to him, and he did settle down. He felt better and was very appreciative,” he says.
The support Rudy provides does not end there.
“Our role is to empower people as much as possible. So, after I read him the Bible passage, I suggested that he read daily passages to himself out loud. That's the kind of thing we do. We encourage people to do things for themselves and to take control of their own lives.”
Responses can be difficult for volunteers and the people they are supporting. It’s a hardship for people to leave their homes for weeks or months on end due to wildfire concerns or isolation requirements. 

“It can be stressful,” Rudy admits. “But safety and wellbeing volunteers know how to do self-care and we have a built-in support group. And the Red Cross has virtual supports that I’ve used a couple of times.”


Why did Rudy join the Red Cross?

“I'm retired, I can do whatever I want to do. And one of the things I want to do is make people's lives a little better. When the volunteer shift is finished, and I know that I've made some people’s lives better, I'm happy.”
Help make people’s lives a little better by becoming a volunteer like Rudy Ambtman. Learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Canadian Red Cross at redcross.ca/volunteer.

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