By Max Seigle, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
It’s a role you don’t always see in the headlines when it comes to American Red Cross disaster help. But if you ask volunteer, Phyllis Wiggins, she’ll tell you Logistics is vital to ensure clients get help.
“We get you the people, places and things you need to be successful on the operation,” Wiggins said in a recent interview with Red Cross Public Affairs.
Wiggins, of Milwaukee, spent a month helping with flood disaster relief in the St. Louis area. She left in late December and served as a Logistics Manager at the Red Cross headquarters in the city.
“If you need a 26-foot truck to load things around, Logistics gets that for you,” Wiggins said.
Requests also included more basic things, like food, bleach, gloves and comfort items for children staying at Red Cross shelters.
“We actually had to go out and make a run for coloring books and crayons,” she said.
Wiggins said Logistics plays a big role in securing locations for shelters and assistance centers during disaster relief. She explained the Red Cross works with community partners to find places, like schools, churches and office buildings. The Red Cross also had its own technology team to equip those facilities. On her deployment to St. Louis, Wiggins said churches, especially, rose to the occasion to offer space. She was also amazed with additional support from corporate donors.
“I’ve been on some operations where people were just begging for help – just trying to dig up that big truck stuff. Here, it was just never an issue,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins recalled one day where a fellow Wisconsin Red Cross volunteer, Megan Besset, was on the phone working to get meals for the mission. What came next was a major delivery, and all of it donated.
“All of a sudden we had food from Popeyes, White Castle, pizza, Italian…” she said.
Wiggins worked about eight to 11 hours a day on her deployment. She was even on the ground New Year’s Eve and Day.
“If you’re doing good as the year rolls over, then the year is going to be good for you,” Wiggins said.
It’s clearly “Mission First” for Wiggins. And serving behind the scenes in Logistics is a role she’s happy to take on with a humble nature.
“It’s more important that people get help, that they feel safe, that they feel take care of,” Wiggins said.
“That is much more important than getting a slap on the back or a Thank You.”
Thank you Phyllis for proudly representing the American Red Cross in Missouri.
This month, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit redcross.org/volunteer.