Red Cross volunteer shares experience with 'Sandy' relief efforts

Blanca Gonzalez

Doing the dishes is a chore most people would rather do without.

But after witnessing the destruction and loss left behind in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast, Blanca Gonzalez says she'll no longer sweat the small stuff.

"Being here it makes me feel like I have everything," she said. "Even though I'm not a millionaire, I still have everything compared to what they have."

Blanca recently returned to Brownsville after a 15-day trip with the American Red Cross in New Jersey.

She's one of 15,000 volunteers with the non-profit charity organization who served food to the hungry and handed out comfort kits to people in need.

"When you would see their faces when they were serving the meals, they were so grateful that they were having a hot meal," she explained.

The American Red Cross says it sheltered more than a 150,000 people.

Blanca stared into the eyes of those who had nothing left.

She offered what little she could to help ease their pain.

"A hug or just talk to them," she said.

It was one of her toughest assignments over the last 15 years.

With the storm now listed as one of the costliest in United States history at $62 billion in damage and losses, it's easy to understand why.

Blanca slept at times with the displaced in shelters and worked 15 hour shifts.

Her hard work has led to some new muscles and admirers who tracked her progress along with Action 4 News across social media websites. "You're sort of a celebrity," Action 4's Ryan Wolf said. "People were giving you tons of support and motivational comments online. How do you feel getting those types of responses?"

"I don't feel like a celebrity," she laughingly said. "I really don't. Maybe people that didn't think about volunteering or donating... will now be volunteering or donating their money or their service... whatever they want to donate."

Sandy may be long gone, but Blanca says she'll be ready to volunteer to help out should duty call.

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