I’m really interested in using my skills, especially in thinking a lot about climate change and the suffering it brings to the world. It’s a way to offer some support.
Vermont’s recent deluge of heavy rains inundated stores and homes with water and washed away roads. But it also brought a flood of volunteers to the region - including a Bridgewater State history professor.
Dr. Maggie Lowe completed a 10-day deployment as a spiritual care volunteer with the American Red Cross. She was among more than 200 of the nonprofit’s disaster workers who served in the Green Mountain State.
“I’m really interested in using my skills, especially in thinking a lot about climate change and the suffering it brings to the world,” Lowe said of being a Red Cross volunteer. “It’s a way to offer some support.”
Lowe, who earned a graduate degree from Harvard Divinity School, provided comfort and an open ear to flood victims who came to pop-up service centers in Ludlow, Londonderry and Wardsboro. At the centers, state, federal and Red Cross personnel worked collaboratively to provide supplies and other assistance in the wake of flooding that decimated hundreds of businesses and affected thousands of residents.
Lowe connected victims to resources and cared for their overall wellbeing. She helped them come to grips with the long road to recovery.
“It’s just really being with them and letting them know they’re not alone,” she said.
The victims included grocery workers suddenly without a job when their store flooded, and an 82-year-old man who was still recovering from the death of his wife the prior year.
“I felt privileged that people were willing to trust me with their stories,” Lowe said. “I feel like I received even more than I gave.”
With her first deployment behind her, Lowe aims to train for additional roles as a Red Cross volunteer. She also plans to share her experience with students as a part of discussions about the history of volunteerism and disasters.
And the skills she learns and practices as a Red Cross volunteer help her serve BSU students, who – like the Vermonters she met – may be hesitant to ask for help.
“I was already trying to be fairly attuned to the life circumstances students face,” she said. “This gives me a lot more compassion. … It’s important to have great expectations for our students, but life is complicated. We have to really respect that.”
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