Have you ever seen a Twitter feed blow-up??
One of my responsibilities as the volunteer Social Media Manager for the American Red Cross here in Kansas City is monitoring our social media accounts - namely, Twitter and Facebook. Not only do I post content each day, but I monitor to see what others are posting to us - or about us, as the case may be. It's kinda' a REALLY AWESOME JOB because I not only get to hang out on Social Media all day - but I get to do it from home. In my pajamas. Which makes me very, very happy.
On a typical day, our Twitter feed may get 2-3 notifications and mentions - nothing too outrageous or alarming, which is always good when you're in the disaster business. But yesterday…that all changed.
I signed on to our Twitter feed for a quick check, and I was stunned to see we had dozens and dozens of "mentions" - in other words, dozens and dozens of other Twitterers were "mentioning" the Kansas City Red Cross in their tweets.
Upon closer investigation, I discovered that yesterday afternoon, a local meteorologist here in town, JD Rudd, had been a contestant on the national syndicated game show, "Let's Ask America". Apparently, he competed against three other meteorologists from across the country, all competing for charity - and JD ended up winning an eye-popping $27,500 - which he donated to the Kansas City Red Cross, his charity of choice.
Not sure whether this was for real - or was it a cruel joke - I soon found JD's local TV station, and their Twitter said it all:
41 Action News @41ActionNews
YAY! Congrats to @jdrudd for winning $27,500 for @kcredcross on @letsaskamerica!
Well. I was rather busy for awhile on both Twitter and Facebook, thanking JD (on behalf of the Red Cross) for his incredible generosity, and spreading the good news. JD later sent a response to our thank you, saying, "I sincerely appreciate your comments. THANK YOU. I have seen first-hand how valuable & helpful the Red Cross is when mother nature is at her worst. There's no other charity I'd rather be playing for. I'm very happy I was able to bring in a donation of that size; I was nervous! Keep up the great work!"
To say this made me happy is an understatement.
During all this crazy, hectic activity on social media, my cell phone rang - and it was, strangely enough, the Red Cross. It seems that there was a natural gas leak at a large apartment complex yesterday afternoon in Kansas City, and the residents would have no heat that night during the frigid temperatures. The Red Cross would most likely be opening a shelter, offering a warm & safe place for the residents to sleep, and would I be available to be the Shelter Manager?
I haven't managed a shelter in quite awhile - maybe since the floods in Fargo back in 2008 - so I'm a bit rusty.
But I said yes, and before I knew it, I'd packed a quick bag with supplies and headed down to the community center where the shelter was being set up. I hadn't been there more than 5 minutes before I was back in the groove, as apparently being a Shelter Manager is a lot like riding a bicycle - you never forget.
My small crew quickly had a dormitory set up by 9:00 pm to accommodate twenty clients:
Outside the gym, we set up the Registration area, where my all-star crew of two, Peg & Kathy, were reviewing the paperwork and ready to receive clients:
In addition to these areas, we set up a small canteen with water and snacks, and a small desk for me, so I could do my paperwork (because with the Red Cross, I've learned - it's all about the reports!!!):
And then we waited.
And waited some more.
By midnight, it was very evident that no one was showing up…the affected residents had all apparently found other accommodations, with friends or family, for the evening - and this made me very happy. It's always better for folks to spend the night with friends or family rather than in a giant, cavernous gymnasium on a cot…trust me, as I've done it on previous deployments when hotel rooms were not available. Cots suck, to put it bluntly.
So, my crew of two - and myself - broke down the cots, and packed everything up and shut down the shelter.
I was home in my own bed by 1:30 in the morning, and although I was a happy girl, I was also a tired girl. That was a lot of physical hard work, and I'm not getting any younger.
As I was driving home, though, I couldn't help but reflect on the generous gift from JD Rudd - and how it will be utilized to help the residents of our metropolitan area after a disaster - whether that disaster is a home fire, a tornado, an ice storm - or a natural gas leak. You never know when it's going to hit, but it's always nice to know that there will be volunteers ready to help out.