Red Cross worker makes volunteering a full-time job

Red Cross worker makes volunteering a full-time job

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"I've met a lot of great people, so many resilient people, that you're just amazed that they can go through what they did, and they can still say 'I'm going to rebuild and I'm going to beat this thing,'" said Keeling. "I've met a lot of great people, so many resilient people, that you're just amazed that they can go through what they did, and they can still say 'I'm going to rebuild and I'm going to beat this thing,'" said Keeling.
Keeling first got involved back in 2005. Keeling first got involved back in 2005.

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Red Cross is an organization that relies heavily on its volunteers and one local man has made it a full time job.

If you were to stop by the Red Cross on any given day of the week, you might think Louie Keeling was on the payroll. He spends more than forty hours a week at his desk or around the building, and it's all for free.

"We're opening shelters, getting people into safe areas, feeding, bulk distribution and one of the most important things that we have now is family reunification where we get families back together who were separated during disasters," said Keeling

Keeling first got involved back in 2005 during one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States.

"Like so many others it was Katrina," said Keeling. "I had a short orientation and the next thing I knew I was down with 400 of my closest friends in the Civic Auditorium that we used as a shelter."

Eight years later the job has taken him to many other places and many other disasters. He's lost track of the exact count but says he remembers them all through images in his mind.

"In Cedar Rapids looking out over 600 blocks of standing water or just standing in a subdivisions of different towns and doing a 360 degree turn and the tornado took it all," said Keeling.

While the big disasters are the ones people remember, Keeling says it's the ones in between that sometimes mean the most.

"A lot of time it's something like a single family fire or a multi-family fire, and for those folks it's the same thing as a tornado or a hurricane," said Keeling.

It's those people that keep him coming back each day.

"I've met a lot of great people, so many resilient people, that you're just amazed that they can go through what they did, and they can still say 'I'm going to rebuild and I'm going to beat this thing,'" said Keeling. "That's one of the things that drives you."

Keeling says it will continue to drive him for as long as he can.

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