Gandhi famously said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

It was Hurricane Harvey that first brought Mike Phillips to The Red Cross. He was not one of the thousands seeking refuge from the rising waters; he was one of the few that showed up and said, “I want to help.” Not long after, him his wife, Jane Phillips followed in his footsteps and signed up to volunteer with the Red Cross. From that moment on the couple began their volunteer journey together. One that would involve many natural disasters and new and ever-pressing occasions to prevent and alleviate human suffering. 

“Being able to help others is something that brings a lot of joy to me, but the greatest feeling is seeing a smile on a child’s face when I give them a toy after they have lost everything,” said Jane.

Almost one year later, after Harvey, flood waters in the barely recovered city of Houston brought a young girl and her mother to a Red Cross shelter. They were met by Jane who was warm and welcoming and ready to help them. When she finished helping the mother and daughter get acclimated to their new temporary home, Jane did something unimaginable. She gave an overjoyed little girl a plush toy. It was at that moment that she made the worst day of her life just a little easier to handle. To a little girl who had lost everything, it meant the world.

Mike and JJ feeding those affected by tornadoes in Greenville, Mississippi

Mike has similar impactful stories. While on his many deployments, to New Mexico wildfires, Kentucky flooding, and Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, one thing remained true; he always brought smiles to the community when he showed up ready to serve a hot meal. It is that hot meal that he gives to the people affected by disasters that brings a little piece of normalcy and comfort. And to Mike, being able to give them that feeling brings him happiness.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of The Red Cross, and Jane and Mike Phillips are two exceptional examples of the many who give their time and energy in the service of others. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” but that seems only half true. To those lives that volunteers have touched, like the little girl with the plush toy or the man comforted by a warm meal, Mike and Jane gave them hope.


Volunteers are more critical than ever as the climate crisis worsens and the need for shelter, hot meals, health services, emotional support grows. The Red Cross is now launching nearly twice as many relief operations for major disasters than we did a decade ago, and with hurricane and wildfire seasons on the horizon, we have a critical need to fill vital volunteer positions.

•            Disaster Action Team Member: As a Disaster Action Team volunteer, you can be a source of refuge and support when it’s needed most. From home fires to storms, unexpected emergencies happen every day, but you can help as a Red Cross volunteer.

•            Shelter Services: Support the day-to-day activities within an emergency shelter by helping with reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information or other areas within a shelter. Free online training will be provided.

•            Disaster Health Services: These valuable volunteers use their professional skills as licensed healthcare providers to deliver hands-on care to people in shelters. There is also a need for Mental Health Services volunteers.

Visit to get started today. Training is free, but the hope you provide as a Red Cross volunteer to people in need is priceless.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit or, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Story By: Kristen Lawler