Red Cross volunteers help neighbors in their time of need

Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 5:23 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - TV5 is continuing our month-long series highlighting the important work of the American Red Cross.

Last week, we told you about a Maine man who traveled to Florida to help with ongoing relief efforts following Hurricane Ian. While the American Red Cross has the ability to dispatch help across the country and abroad, much of the work is done locally.

This week, we spoke to Newburgh resident Wayne Rivers about his service in the community and the need for more volunteers.

“It’s all about giving back for me. That’s what I like,” said Rivers.

Rivers, a U.S. Army veteran, was looking for a volunteer opportunity in his retirement. Just over a year ago, a family member introduced him to the American Red Cross.

He now serves as a Disaster Action Team member, helping local families cope with emergencies.

“To be able to bring our services to them and help them in, you know, in most cases which is probably close to the worst days of their lives, it’s personally rewarding, and the people are so grateful,” said Rivers.

The Red Cross has a saying: “Disasters don’t take a break for the holidays.”

That was on display Thursday on Fremont Street in Bangor. A fire just days before Christmas left seven people displaced from their home and the family cat dead.

Rivers was called to assist the victims.

“We make an effort to get to the scene of whatever it is as quickly as possible, but our job once we arrive on scene is to provide them with immediate assistance,” Rivers said.

Rivers works for the Red Cross’ Northern and Eastern Maine Chapter which has responded to more than 90 fires this year and assisted at least 315 people.

That territory stretches from the Greater Bangor area all the way to Millinocket.

“It’s an appreciation for life in those small communities that I didn’t fully have, even though I’ve lived here all my life. But, there is a great need in those communities,” said Rivers.

Rivers says there’s a desperate need for more volunteers. Despite covering a vast geographic region, he’s one of just four really active members of the Bangor office.

“I would encourage anybody that wants to know that the work that they do has almost an immediate impact to seriously give this type of work consideration. I’ve had more than one person say, ‘Well, nobody’s ever helped me before for anything.’ So, I need to be able to do that. There’s no greater reward that you can get back from a client than that appreciation,” said Rivers.

If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, you can find opportunities on their website.

If you’re ready to apply, click here.