Her name is Julielavuna but everyone knows her as J.J.
The day after Christmas in 1992 J.J.’s brother and family had a house fire. Their home was destroyed, J.J.’s brother was badly burned and life-flighted to Portland. He spent more than two months in a burn unit and the American Red Cross provided assistance and support to the family. The impression this event had on J.J. and the gratitude she felt was lasting and she joined the American Red Cross in North Bend, Oregon. When she was asked if she would be a volunteer, she said, “Yes, I want to help carry out the mission and values of the organization.” To this day she tells others that her heart is tied to disaster services although there are a lot of different areas and activities with which you can become involved. She pretty well lives her volunteer service according to the motto: Be Ready, Be Prepared and Get Trained. Help others when you can. She reminds other volunteers that they can do as little or as much as they want. In the course of their service, volunteers can change the world, and help eliminate pain and suffering. The Red Cross always needs more interested and concerned volunteers!
J.J.’s days are spent in Christian Ministry, and she is a volunteer advocate for the cognitive disabled. She says,” I want to serve others: to help them to find joy, peace and purpose in their lives.” She also volunteers with other humanitarian agencies and organizations in her community, like her 19 years climbing mountains in search and rescue finding the lost or helping in the Salvation Army Thrift store. When she first joined the Red Cross, her greatest challenge was deciding on the one area within disaster services where she most was needed, where she wanted to serve. She looked around, saw lots of different areas of need, and took all the trainings required for the roles and positions needing filled. She reasoned, “I want to be the best volunteer that I can be for the Red Cross, to meet and exceed their needs.” This will increase my potential value to lots of different parts of the organization: weather disaster assistance team (DAT), disaster coordinator, mass care coordinator, preparedness leader, fundraising, administration, mediator, field manager, community exercises, blood services or disaster instructor. “And in my 22 years I have worn many of these hats - locally and nationally.”
Today J.J. is the Coos County Disaster Services Lead and she reminds other volunteers that “no matter what you choose, remember the mission of the American Red Cross and share it with others. Be flexible and adaptive to change and stay focused. Do more than your best to stay positive. In the midst of pain and suffering, you can bring comfort and joy to others.” Looking back, she has really liked client services and field management, plus the joy that teaching brings, along with the good earnest pleasure of driving supplies to clients in box trucks nationally.
Red Cross communications volunteer Patrick Wilson goes behind the scenes to talk with volunteers across the Cascades Region to learn about their Red Cross work and how they got involved with the organization.