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Citizen of the Week

Red Cross volunteer Jeri Cranney makes a visit to a Snoqualmie resident during the November 2006 flooding. - Courtesy photo
Red Cross volunteer Jeri Cranney makes a visit to a Snoqualmie resident during the November 2006 flooding.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Jeri Cranney agreed to join the board of directors for the American Red Cross of King and Kitsap counties with one condition: that she be able to continue her work on the organization’s national disaster response team.

Since she started volunteering with the Red Cross in 2001, Cranney has traveled all over the country helping disaster victims, and says it’s the best work she’s ever done.

“It’s about focusing on the people that need help. At the end of the day, when somebody gives you a hug and says thank you, or you hear that someone who stayed in a shelter for a couple of days connected with family and is doing well, that’s great.”

Just one week after signing up with the Red Cross, Cranney was immersed in the organization, providing relief to people affected by the Nisqually earthquake.

The following January, she headed to the neighborhoods surrounding Ground Zero, where she spent a month going door to door offering assistance to Manhattanites whose lives were shaken by the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The Wood River resident has also provided disaster relief locally. In November 2006, she and her daughter, Melissa DeLaurentis, spent three days visiting Snoqualmie Valley flood victims at their homes, offering food and support.

“Jeri’s Red Cross training was invaluable,” said Duncan Wilson, North Bend’s city administrator. “Whenever there’s been a problem in the city, she’s always been the first one to call. She’s a great asset.”

Starting this month, Cranney brings a wealth of disaster-response experience to the Red Cross’ board of directors. She hopes to help the board support its disaster responders better than ever.

She will also focus on reaching out to more volunteers, and making the best use of existing resources.

“A lot of times people have talents and skills that you may not even be aware of. I’m always interested to see what people can bring to the table.”

Cranney said the Red Cross has volunteer opportunities for everyone, whatever their interest or availability.

“You can do as little or as much in the Red Cross as you want,” she said. “It’s a really selfless way to give back to your community locally and nationally without expectations. I think that’s something that everybody can do.”

During crises, however, the organization is most in need of financial help to mobilize existing volunteers.

“The number one way you can help in a time of disaster is to give money,” Cranney said. “Then, when things calm down a bit, we can bring more people into the organization.”

Even better than responding to a disaster, she said, is being ready for one.

“Get education and get prepared; that alone will save lives.”

Tips for building emergency supply kits, as well as information on donating to and volunteering with the local Red Cross, is online at www.seattleredcross.org.

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send ideas to editor@valleyrecord.com, or call (425) 888-2311.

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