This is the last in a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
Pat Chappell has worn many hats during her 10 years volunteering for the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross, but the one she says encompasses them all is community advocate.
Chappell, a former Air Force nurse, oversees hundreds of volunteers in the Colorado region, managing responses to catastrophic events near and far.
"Bottom line, we are here to make sure the community does well in terms of a disaster event," Chappell said.
The Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross provides relief to disaster victims while helping to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies by providing a wide range of community-based programs. As a worldwide organization, the American Red Cross assists people around the globe.
In the summer of 2012, disaster came to Chappell's doorstep as the Waldo Canyon fire roared through her Mountain Shadows neighborhood on the west side of Colorado Springs. Her home was spared, but she spent days in charge of operations management for the Red Cross response to the wildfire, setting aside her personal stake to help others.
Then, when the Black Forest fire devoured homes last summer, Chappell found herself hard at work again, acting as a liaison between government officials and her organization.
"We couldn't believe it," she said. "We said, 'No, not again,' because we just had the Waldo Canyon fire."
Working with a great team of volunteers to prevent and alleviate suffering in the face of emergencies and disasters is what Chappell enjoys most about her volunteer position.
Out on the job, Chappell says she often finds a simple hug or words of kindness can be what people suffering through difficult times need. She says those basic comforts go a long way.
"It's a wonderful feeling," she said. "For me to be a part of that team is so rewarding."
HOW TO DONATE
Make a secure donation at www.fillanemptystocking.org. Call 476-1673 to make a credit card or stock donation. Make check payable to the Empty Stocking Fund and mail to P.O. Box 910942, Denver, CO 80291-0942. Like us on Facebook at EmptyStockingFund or follow us on Twitter @esfsprings.