During the last week of September, Gary Tucker boarded a plane in Corpus Christi, Texas, and wouldn’t return until Oct. 9. He set off to volunteer his time and efforts in Florida for Hurricane Ian Disaster-Relief (DR). Tucker landed in Tallahassee before traveling two and a half hours to Jacksonville to staff its shelter. The storm did not impact the Jacksonville area as expected, which lead Tucker to Orlando to assist highly impacted communities.

While reporting out of Orlando, Tucker volunteered as a Service Associate (SA) for a small-town shelter in Mulberry, which has been greatly impacted by flooding and is located between Fort Myers and Tampa. He worked with clients who relocated from a general shelter due to their specific needs. The shelter concentrated on special needs, while consisting of senior citizen clients with mobility issues, which puts them at risk during evacuations and more.

Deploying to help people in need of urgent assistance isn’t new to Tucker. He’s volunteered for the American Red Cross for over a year and deployed to four disasters in the short amount of time. After experiencing unpreparedness during 2021’s deadly Texas freeze, Tucker decided he could help others prepare for future disasters.

“I volunteered with Hurricane Ida, the New Mexico fires and the Dallas floods,” said Tucker. “You see up front how people need help; I volunteer to help those folks because unfortunately, there is a lot of need.”

Prior to retiring from the biopharmaceutical industry in January, Tucker knew he wanted his upcoming free time spent with fulfillment. His desire for fulfillment led him to his journey with the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region and its Coastal Bend Chapter.

“The Red Cross was the natural course to take after researching different organizations and what they do,” said Tucker. “What has maintained my interest with the Red Cross is a significant amount of training. The Red cross provides so much training before you’re put into situations, and I really appreciate that. The Red Cross fulfills a large gap for me.”

Story By Kyndal Dugger