This month, we continue to honor our Red Cross volunteers who have served in the military. We spoke with Dorinda Burrell, an Air Force veteran and Red Cross volunteer. Through our interview, Dorinda, who was a member of the Air Force from July 1976 until a car accident in January 1978 permanently disabled her as a paraplegic, revealed her life story and what keeps her going as a Red Crosser.
In high school, Dorinda grappled with deciding what to do with her future. “Particularly in New England (where I grew up), everyone expects you to go to college. I was starting to look around colleges, but I hadn’t found anything,” she recounted. Eventually, she decided to join the military in the summer after her senior year of high school. She specialized in repairing airplane instruments. However, because of her car accident, Dorinda was honorably discharged in June 1978.
Nevertheless, this did not deter her from pursuing other passions as many years later, her daughter, Christina Chapman, connected her with the Red Cross. With her children now all adults and with more free time, Dorinda decided to dedicate her time and efforts to volunteering with the Red Cross. Now, she serves as a case supervisor by assigning all cases that come in and mentoring new caseworkers.
Her fondest memory throughout her time with the Red Cross was when she was assisting a woman after an apartment fire. Dorinda’s client was deeply distressed by the fire, especially since her late mother’s treasured belongings and her beloved cat were in the home. After hearing about her spirituality, Dorinda suggested to the woman to reach out to her pastor. “I called her about a week later and by then, she was so upbeat. Hearing from her pastor that he was open to listening seemed to help her,” Dorinda recalled, noticing the difference in the woman’s mental state to be particularly striking. “That was just so stuck in my mind because I felt that calling her was just what she needed.”
To learn more about how you can use your skills and energy for a greater cause, visit redcross.org/volunteer.
Written by Communications Intern, Katriel Lin.