COMMUNITY HEROES: Kingsport American Red Cross volunteer committed to helping victims who have lost hope

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) She has the heart to help those in need, when disaster strikes.

Northeast Tennessee American Red Cross volunteer, Deb Reynolds, has served the people of Tennessee for the last six years.

A couple of years before retirement, Deb Reynolds sought out her next purpose in life.

Little did she know at the time, that being an American Red Cross volunteer would be her next mission.

“It was so much more. I did not have a clue of everything Red Cross did,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds, who started out as a receptionist, immediately became a leader for the organization, after taking part in her first deployment. She currently leads the Disaster Action Team (DAT).

“The Disaster Action Teams (DAT) are the local teams are the local teams that we have, and I have a role in helping to try and kind of standardize the process, so whether you live in Eastern Tennessee or you live in Memphis, you live in Nashville, you’re going to be treated the same way. You’re going to get the same type of service,” Reynolds explained.

Reynolds said, “It was literally watching a Fortune 500 company come in, setup in a short amount of time, get their mission done then shut back down. I could not believe all the functions that are involved in helping with a large disaster.”

“She’s a joy to be around, to work with. She’s creative. She thinks outside the box. She’s willing to take on other tasks and doing so, she brings a fresh look to it and it always turns out great,” Larry Nelson said.

Larry Nelson has been with the organization for the last ten years. Nelson is the Disaster Program Specialist and works closely with Reynolds.

“She does a great job of communicating not only with me but the other volunteers to get their input and their ideas. So, just in our day-to-day interactions and just realizing what a value she is, and what she brings to the chapter,” Nelson said.

Reynolds is in charge of sending volunteers to disasters in the 13 counties they cover, no matter what time of day it is.

“I also do case work, so I might send clients to a fire. Those particular people take care of that immediate need, and then within a few days, I call them and try to walk them through their recovery,” she said. Calling people at 3am in the morning is a little challenging sometimes, waking them up.”

In the last year, Reynolds has done more than 50 deployments, helping those who have been affected by natural disasters.

Nelson said, “Those people, locally, who are affected by a disaster, whether it be a home fire or a flood or a tree that falls on someone’s house. Someone who’s displaced. She takes up her own time to call those people, to follow up to see how they’re doing.”

“I had one client who lost his laptop in a fire, and we were able to get him a new laptop that prevented him from having to drop from school. He was a veteran,” Reynolds said. “That little expenditure just opened up his life backup.”

It is not easy watching people go through their lowest points in life, but reynolds works tirelessly to help them as best as she can.

“Helping people. There is no doubt that just having somebody, being able to say, ‘Thank you, I don’t need you anymore.’ I mean, that’s probably the best thing we hear. ‘I’m okay,'” the community hero explained.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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