Wednesday night, people get a chance to see where donations have gone. Volunteers from Berrien County are going to share stories from their relief efforts.
Thomas and Mary Westgate call these their "volunteer years."
"We're retired so we have the time and the energy to volunteer," says Thomas. “So, that is what we are doing."
The Berrien County couple has responded to countless disasters over the last several years, and their only payment has been, "A lot of hugs," says Mary, "We get a lot of hugs. We give a lot of hugs."
And in October, they were called to the east coast after Superstorm Sandy caused mass devastation. The storm killed nearly 130 people, knocked out power for weeks, caused billions of dollars in damage, and wrecked thousands of homes and businesses along the east coast. The Westgates were two of about 15,000 Red Cross Volunteers who responded.
"I'm a little surprised because Mother Nature does her thing, and the damage is great everywhere we go. You just can't get used to that," says Thomas.
The Westgates served food to victims in New Jersey. While there, the power was out. Volunteers and victims lived in shelters -- and where there was no power, there was also no heat.
"Something new happens just about every time we go there. Something different," says Thomas, "and sleeping on a church floor with no cots and no blankets and no heat. You have gotta look at that as an adventure."
It’s an adventure that comes with a lot of reward. "They were very grateful. They would literally break down and start crying and thanking us for being there," says Thomas.
According to the Westgates, there is no better way to retire and spend the best years of your life.
"Sure, we work an average of 12 hours a day and we don't have the best conditions and no power, lights, heat, hot food, but we are always eager to go," says Thomas.
You can meet the Westlakes and other Red Cross volunteers from Berrien and Van Buren Counties tonight, Wednesday, December 19, 2012 from 5:00pm-7:00pm. They are located at 3838 Niles Rd in St Joseph, MI.
Superstorm Sandy Presentation - 6:00pm
Light Refreshments Provided
269-556-9619 for Additional Information