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March 3rd, 2014 in News

Don Barnett, American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Don Barnett wanted a volunteer position with the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter that didn't involve a lot of paperwork.

"The big need in the chapter was client casework, which is a lot of paperwork," he said. "But, I'm going out on fire calls and doing paperwork on things like the hoods of cars, on trash cans, and sitting on the ground."

As a client case work supervisor, Barnett goes to the disaster scene and provides for immediate needs - food, clothing and shelter - to victims.

He's been on 36 calls in his four years volunteering with the Red Cross.

"A lot of people are very thankful," Barnett said of victims. "They want help, and they know that we'll get them help."

Barnett has been on five deployments with the agency - the aftermath of a tornado in Little Rock, a flood in Mississippi, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the New Jersey area, the scene of a tornado in Rolla and to help individuals affected by last year's flooding in Waynesville.

He was inspired to become a volunteer for the Red Cross after watching the evening news sometime in 2009.

"They interviewed someone who was involved with the Red Cross, and I realized I could do that," he said.

Barnett worked for the Department of Natural Resources for nearly 30 years and then worked in public schools for seven years.

He said his volunteer position with the Red Cross requires him to be in the chapter's office 2-3 hours a week, and then he completes some paperwork at home. He said extra hours come into play when he's called to a disaster scene.

"I think it (this position) has shown me there's an organization that provides stability," Barnett said. "People look to us for help, and it's embodied in me now."

He never dreamed he would get to out on a fire call as soon as he did - six months after he began volunteering.

"If you show interest, you get out there," he said.