Robbin Stephens is used to responding to calls for help at all hours of the day, so when the call came from the American Red Cross to help families affected by Superstorm Sandy, she was among more than 5,000 volunteers who packed their bags and put their home lives on hold to help communities along the Eastern Seaboard.
What makes this journey different for Robbin is that a passport was at the top of her packing list. A disaster management supervising instructor with the Canadian Red Cross, Robbin has lent her skills to many disasters across her home province of British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, and to floods, fires and storms across the country. Part of a 30-strong contingent of disaster management specialists from our northern neighbors, Robbin is working in the warehouse in Somerset, New Jersey, that receives, sorts and dispatches relief supplies— like blankets, bottled water, and cleanup kits—to the thousands of New Jersey families the American Red Cross is helping each day.
This is Robbin’s first deployment outside Canada, and the opportunity to lend her logistics skills to warehousing has opened her eyes to the scale of relief for a disaster like this. Her warehouse has already distributed 700,000 individual relief items to families who need them. “It’s great seeing people from all over the US and all over the world here to help communities in their time of need,” she said. “Working with partners like Americorps, which seems to be full of Energizer Bunnies, really shows how people can pull together to help each other in a crisis.”