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Director of Communications

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[email protected]

Friday, August 20, 2004

This is the first wave of volunteers mobilized

On Friday, exactly one week to the day Hurricane Charley hit southern Florida, three RI Red Cross volunteers were deployed to Sarasota, Florida for a minimum of two weeks to assist the American Red Cross with their disaster relief efforts. RI Red Cross volunteers Don Silva of Swansea, Stan Henshaw of Warwick and Gale Silvia of Tiverton, will depart from RI Chapter Headquarters late Friday evening and drive straight through to Florida. They will assist the Red Cross in providing the most basic needs - food, clothing, shelter and medication -- to those residents affected by Hurricane Charley. The volunteers were put on standby mode earlier this week and at noon on Friday received the call that they would be en route to the hurricane-ravaged area later that same evening.

"This is a remarkable group of volunteers", stated Nick Logothets, Interim CEO and Director of Disaster Services. "They are dedicated volunteers who leave their jobs and families simply to help those in crisis." 

Volunteer Don Silva is no stranger to national disasters. A RI Red Cross volunteer for 5 years, Don spent two weeks volunteering his services at Ground Zero, following the September 11th terrorist attacks. "It was an eye opening experience," he explained. "You do your best to make life better for someone, even if for just a short period of time."

For Stan Henshaw, the events of 9/11 are what spurred him to become a volunteer. "Seeing people who were affected by disasters and in need of assistance "moved Henshaw to become a local Red Cross volunteer. He also played an important role in the aftermath of The Station Nightclub fire, along with Silva.  When asked why he was so eager to put his life on hold and travel to Florida, Henshaw explained, "because if we were in the same situation, I know they would help us." 

Gale Silvia was simply looking for "a way to help out." This is her first national assignment and she is "anxious to see firsthand what it is all about and I think it is a great way to help other people in need."

The 3 volunteers are the first wave of local RI Red Cross volunteers to travel to Florida. Two other volunteers are expected to leave early next week, with more expected to follow. Volunteers will assist with a variety of duties, ranging from serving warm meals to loading water onto mobile feeding trucks to proving emergency cleaning and hygiene supplies to displaced residents to cleaning dishes. They work in 12 hours shifts and do whatever needs to be done.

Local residents who wish to assist Florida residents are asked to make a financial donation to provide emergency supplies and services to the affected families. You can give to the National Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW or donating online at

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