Over the past two weeks, thousands of Red Cross volunteers from near and far have converged on New York, New Jersey and other eastern states to provide help and hope to families affected by Superstorm Sandy. Few have had to travel as far as Joseph Jetnil of the Northern Mariana Islands chapter of the American Red Cross. Home for Joseph is the Pacific island of Saipan, a US territory located 120 miles north of Guam.
Joseph joined the Red Cross after retiring. “Volunteering is better than fishing,” he said, adding, “I decided I had been lucky in life and should give back.” Joseph is a jack of all disaster-trades, and has worked in logistics, distribution and warehousing since arriving in New Jersey. “His flexibility and vast knowledge of disaster operations have made him a vital component of the Red Cross’ response to Sandy in New Jersey,” said Marita Wenner, director of Red Cross disaster operations for New Jersey relief efforts.
This relief operation adds to his previous experiences responding to hurricanes in North Carolina and flash floods in Kansas and Missouri. Volunteers like Joseph, with their extensive training and breadth and depth of knowledge, form the backbone of the Red Cross’ response to disasters across the country and around the world.