Special Memories Epitomize the Work of Volunteer Larry Nix

To commemorate Black History Month, the Red Cross is celebrating team members and how they’re making a difference to the mission.

American Red Cross volunteer Larry Nix first noticed the woman as he was doing disaster assessment in one of the Florida neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018. She was sitting there on a chair, quiet and alone. The 20 homes on the block were stripped of everything but the concrete. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was fading, and Nix had a two-hour drive back to Red Cross headquarters. His instincts told him to approach the woman.

“Ma’am, you, OK?” he asked.

“No. I don’t have anywhere to go. All the shelters are full.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m just going to sit here. I don’t have nowhere to go.”

“Hold on, ma’am,” Nix said, as he dialed one of the Red Cross shelters in the area. Nix then handed his phone to the woman who spoke with someone at the shelter. After a brief conversation, the woman dropped the phone, bent over, and started crying uncontrollably. The Red Cross had made room for her at the shelter.

“She was so happy she started crying like you wouldn’t believe,” Nix said. “She said, ‘sir, can we take one of those selfies?’ I said sure why not. She later texted me, ‘you’re my godsend’.”

The next morning, Nix was called to the front of a Red Cross staff meeting. The emotional story of Nix assisting the displaced women was shared with the staff, leading many to tears.

“My mom always taught us to do the right thing,” Nix said. “I had a premonition something was wrong. It worked out and we were able to get her assistance.”

Since joining the Red Cross in Michigan in 2016, Nix has been deployed to more than 40 disaster sites across the country as a disaster volunteer. He has also done volunteer work for the Services to the Armed Forces and blood collection service lines. Currently, he manages the operations of 200 Red Cross vehicles at the Southeast Michigan chapter in Detroit.

“I enjoy what I do,” said Nix, a U.S. Army veteran. “The Red Cross is my second home.

“What keeps me going is the opportunity. If you like helping people, if you like being part of an organization that gives you the opportunity to grow and learn, and teach, and be productive, the Red Cross is the place.”

Nix met two of his best friends – Red Cross volunteers from Wisconsin and Puerto Rico – on a deployment in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina in 2018. They stay in regular contact to this day.

Of course, being deployed brings its share of memorable moments. Like the woman in Florida. And like the 14-year-old boy he met in Dayton, Ohio, in 2019. Nix was assigned to deliver food and water from a Red Cross emergency response vehicle in one of the communities impacted by a series of tornadoes. When the boy approached the serving window, Nix struck up a conversation and asked the boy about his life’s ambition.

“You want be a basketball player, a doctor, a lawyer,” Nix asked.

“Nope,” the boy responded. “I want to be like you and join the Red Cross.”  

To find out more about volunteering or working with the Red Cross Michigan Region, visit redcross.org/michigan or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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