COVID-19 May Change How We Respond, but the Heart and Impact of the Volunteer Remains

The COVID-19 virus has turned our world upside down. To stop the spread of the virus, stores and restaurants have been closed or are offering take out or delivery-only options, we are all practicing social distancing by standing at least six feet apart from each other when making essential trips, and only being in contact with people who live in our homes. To say this has been a trying time would be an understatement. For Red Cross volunteers, operating in the current environment has dramatically changed the way they fulfill the mission.

Peter July 2019
Peter Prowe, Red Cross Volunteer

Before COVID-19, Disaster Action Teams (DAT) would respond to home fires in-person, offering comfort, hope and often an iconic Red Cross hug to people who just lost everything on what is likely the worst day of their lives. Red Cross volunteers are still responding to home fires, still offering comfort and hope, but doing so while practicing social distancing and utilizing technology to deliver the mission to those who need it most.

Rhode Island Red Crosser Peter Prowe recently responded to a home fire as a DAT Runner, a Disaster Action Team Member who visits with the home fire victim, briefly, while using social distancing, to deliver important documents, under COVID-19 conditions.

“Not everything is negative in the world, and especially in the Red Cross world.  The expression “Mission Always” pumps me up and gets me excited about making a difference in the lives of those who are going through some sort of disaster.

Today I experienced the role of a “DAT Runner.”  Even though my interaction with the fire victim was short and I had to stay at least six feet away, I still saw the anguish on her face. I saw her hands shaking, the tears running down her face were real, and her mind was spinning with who knows what thoughts, probably ‘where do I go from here.’  Bob Partington and I arrived with a “wheelbarrow” full of compassion, empathy, and kindness just like we do with a regular DAT call and we left with an empty “wheelbarrow.”

We do make a difference and in this time of turmoil, the Red Cross is always leaning forward to comfort those who may be going through the worst days of their life!”

To join other volunteers delivering help and hope with the Red Cross, visit

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