By Duchess Adjei, American Red Cross

American Red Cross disaster volunteer Rob Burke is absolutely convinced “There’s healing after Hurricane Harvey.” And he’s determined to share that.

“Learning to help the people in this community means coming face-to-face with a reality that is cloaked in understanding that there is a long journey up ahead,” Burke said.

“I know it’s going to be difficult, but there is healing that comes in the form of individuals like me.”

On his fourth day as a Red Cross caseworker, the 35-year-old from Tennessee already knows, “It’s important to try to listen and learn.”

Burke knows that some of the most difficult work Red Crossers do – having painful conversations, providing health and mental support to those who’ve lost everything – can come as they’re passing out hearty meals or comfort snacks, manning a shelter or helping storm victims plan their road to recovery.

Although Burke’s fun spirit and spunky personality are in the forefront, he draws on a deep well of compassion to lift up those in need. “If I can come and provide a bright moment in someone’s life, then let me do that. Maybe it’s a smile or a comment reaffirming that someone still cares.”

When Burke isn’t meeting one-on-one with families to help them assess their needs and their resources, he has a skip in his step, giving high fives to groups of children, making funny faces and cracking jokes to lighten the mood.

“Why wouldn’t I give up my normal day-to-day life to pour my positive energy into someone who is dealing with devastating circumstances? That’s what humanity is about. That’s what being a good person is about.”

American Red Cross disaster volunteer Rob Burke of Tennessee takes time to chat with young shelter resident in Houston. (Red Cross photo by Duchess Adjei)