by Susan Gilbert, American Red Cross of Massachusetts volunteer
Tangley Lloyd grew up in Greenwich,Connecticut, and summered in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. In the late 1990s while at the Cape as an adult, she heard on the radio a man being interviewed about Red Cross disaster relief. Part-way through the interview, the Red Cross volunteer got beeped and hopped on a plane to a disaster site. Tangley thought herself, “This is great; this is what I want to do!”
Until then all Tangley knew about the Red Cross were raffles and blood drives sponsored by her local Red Cross, promoted by signs and a car in front of the Greenwich chapter building.
After Tangley returned home, she signed up to volunteer. As a licensed therapist and social worker, her mental health background proved an excellent fit for the Red Cross. As a Disaster Mental Health volunteer, Tangley’s mission is to be supportive to clients. She and her team help those affected by disaster “get back up and running,” restoring them to their level of pre-disaster functioning, offering plenty of community resources as needed and available.
Tangley’s first assignment was in 1998, helping out in Oklahoma after it was ravaged by the largest tornado to strike the area. This experience was very special to her because she met Red Cross volunteers from across the United States. While some volunteers came in wheelchairs and on crutches, everyone had a function they could perform and were a huge asset to the relief effort.
“I was there for two weeks and loved every minute of it. It opened my world to see the generosity of the American people in donating so many needed items, such as diapers and steel-toed work boots. Local people cooked all the food,” Tangley said. “I continue to see these massive group efforts at every disaster, big and small. People give above and beyond what they can. It’s amazing.”
While in Oklahoma, her team would walk through local neighborhoods daily so people would recognize the Red Cross volunteers. Tangley recalls an incident when an elderly woman and her family just needed hugs.
Over Labor Day 2016, Tangley went to Baton Rouge as part of an Integrated Condolence Care Team. Many people had moved to Baton Rouge from Katrina-affected areas after losing everything, including loved ones. “I listened to someone for two and a half hours who’d lost her grandma. It was hard but we were the best of the best, and I’m proud to be a part of the Red Cross.”
In addition to providing relief to disaster victims, Tangley supports Red Cross staff. Many volunteers become tired, especially if they’ve just come from another disaster in another state.
“I love volunteering with the Red Cross, and plan to be a part of it as long as I can. As long as I can still hear, which is key as a mental health professional, I know I’ll be able to help people. It’s very rewarding, and close to my heart. The Red Cross means a lot to me, and there’s a place for everybody.”