KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bob and June Rush of Kansas City, Mo., retired two years ago. Since then, they have become devoted Red Cross volunteers. Now they're inviting others to become volunteers.
The Rush's were inspired to volunteer in May 2011, when they saw the massive destruction caused by the Joplin tornado. Thousands of people were injured and 161 people were killed.
"You know our hearts were just breaking because we knew the destruction was just awful, and we just wanted to help," June Rush said.
"Our hearts went out; we were just hurting for those people down there," Bob Rush added.
To become a Red Cross volunteer, the Rush's had to attend classes at the Red Cross headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. There are different classes for each area of volunteer service. The Rush's took classes to learn how to volunteer for shelter services, case management and food service.
"Our first deployment was to North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene," Bob explained. "This year we've gone to the wildfires in Oklahoma between Oklahoma City and Tulsa area. Last year, we helped with the flooding in Pennsylvania."
The Rush's often spend three weeks at a time when they're deployed. They work long hours and help hundreds of people a day. They sleep in hotels or motels or in staff shelters or the public shelters with clients. They admit volunteering is hard work, but they love it.
"It gets very, very emotional. These people have lost everything. They need comfort, they need provisions," Bob explained.
The day after Christmas, Bob and June got the call to go to New York to help Hurricane Sandy victims connect with social services for financial aid, housing and employment assistance. Within five hours, they were packed and at the Red Cross Headquarters getting tickets to fly to the east coast.
"I would encourage anybody who has the time and the desire to help to get in touch with the Red Cross," Bob said.
"We're so blessed to be able to do it, and it feels so good to be able to help people with real problems get back on their feet," June said.
If you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross, you can visit the Kansas City Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/mo/kansas-city/volunteer/become-volunteer.