Woman works with Red Cross to help people through tough times

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"If you've ever watched someone lose anything or if you've ever lost anything, it's heartbreaking."

Barbara Lewis sits in on American Red Cross shelter fundamentals course./Source: KNOE

Barbara Lewis has seen a storm or two in her lifetime.

"I count my blessings," Lewis says.

"Others have helped me in trials and tribulations. In 1958 and a few other times, I've been a victim of tornadoes and hurricanes."

So the decision to help others was easy to make. She volunteers her time at shelters when disasters strike, helping others who are in the same situation she was once in.

Volunteering at a shelter can be overwhelming, especially for a first-timer.

So, as the American Red Cross prepares to help victims of storms, it also offers free shelter fundamental courses.

They are usually held days before a disaster strikes to prepare volunteers for what's to come.

"Everyone should maybe take a few courses and also volunteer, because we need people. If you've noticed this year, we've really had a lot of hurricanes and tornadoes, and it takes a village to make a situation better."

Colleen Morgan is a regional program specialist with the American Red Cross. She says there’s always something to do to make sure shelters run smoothly. There’s even jobs that need to be done outside of the shelter too.

"There are a lot of extra things people can do besides working in the shelter. We need people to help with logistics, to make phone calls, all kinds of things."

She knows it's important to help others because families go through a lot during these disasters.

"You have people walking in the building that have maybe been on the road for 15 hours. They've got hungry children, crying children," Morgan says.

"Sometimes, we just have to have that extra heart of compassion. It does something to you to be able to help those who are displaced from their homes, because it can happen to any one of us at any time. We need to be prepared to open up our hands and our hearts to help other people in their time of need."

It's not too late to help storm victims. Call the American Red Cross for ways to lend a helping hand.