Being a volunteer is my calling.

In 2003, my husband and I moved our family to Norfolk, Virginia. He was in the Navy and deployed for eight months out of the year. As a stay-at-home mom I had some free time and wanted to give back by volunteering.

This decision would be the beginning of many great adventures. I joined groups like the Armed Services YMCA, Family Readiness Group, the PTA, Operation Homefront and Parents as Partners. I helped create programs to help military spouses cope while their partners were deployed. We all needed someone to talk to and I knew I could offer a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on.

My work at Parents as Partners would lead to a nomination for Navy spouse of the year from Military Spouse magazine. I felt blessed to be considered and it was a great honor to have my husband see everything I was doing back home.

In 2011, I received a called from the HARPO Network, asking if I would come to the show to be part of the audience and offer advice about a new series they were featuring called Military Spouse “Alaska Edition” – It turned out to be Oprah’s Favorite Things! It was definitely one of the most surreal things to happen to me.

My passion for volunteering has led to meeting many amazing people that I am blessed to call friends. The bond I shared with other military spouses whose husbands were stationed on the U.S.S. Cole, made it easier to handle my husband being gone for much of the year.

When I joined the American Red Cross in 2015, I knew that Service to the Armed Forces was exactly where I wanted to be.

Every day I help current military, veterans and their families by connecting them to resources and setting up virtual monthly events to celebrate and support our local heroes.

It makes me happy to finish a call by saying ‘thank you for your service’, not only to our service members, but their families as well.

When I put on my Red Cross vest, I feel a sense of pride because I know I am truly helping someone.

Story by Red Cross contributor, Brenda Crawley