Story by Sanjanetta Barnes, Photos by Krista Davenport, Red Cross Contributors

As a feeding supervisor, Dean Dolence, specializes in making sure those affected by disaster don’t go hungry. He has been a Red Cross volunteer for twenty years and has deployed to almost as many disaster relief efforts. In fact, this Wisconsin volunteer has deployed to Houston at least five times.

As a seasoned volunteer, he has many stories but one stands out to him the most. In 2015, Dolence remembers arriving in Texas to help relief efforts following a gut-wrenching tornado that swept through the state.

“I was working in the resource center and a woman asked me how the Red Cross could help her,” he recalls. “She then told me she had financial problems and had to cut off her cable so she couldn’t watch the news. As she was doing the dishes the tornado siren went off. She ran downstairs for safety and when the storm passed, she came back upstairs and discovered her entire home was gone! I felt for the woman and wanted to help her. I told her I was sorry to hear of her situation and that I was there to assist her with signing up for the resources Red Cross offers, but before I could finish my sentence, she interrupted me to say, “My house is gone and I can’t change that, but I did all those dishes for nothing!”

Holding back laughter, Dolence remarks, “Her sense of humor in the midst of a disaster is one of the reasons why I continue to do what I do.”