Award-winning Red Cross volunteer from Champlin, Minn. deploying to Hurricane Dorian's path

While the path of Hurricane Dorian is still uncertain, help from across the county is headed there, including people from Minnesota.

Kyle Parkinson of Champlin, retired five years ago, but she frequently deploys as a Red Cross volunteer. Now, she’s ready for the challenge of helping people recover from the devastation Dorian is expected to leave along the southeast coast.

From what she will wear, sleep on and even stress-eat, Parkinson’s deployment bag is always packed and close by.

“It’s usually hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and wildfires,” Parkinson said. “Those are the main things."

She hasn’t been a Red Cross volunteer for more than three years, but she’s already been deployed 19 times.

“I have to admit part of it is a little selfish, as an empty nester, I find that I like feeling needed,” Parkinson said. “And I feel that I have that mother instinct so I like to go mother people and help them.”

That combination of modesty and empathy is probably why she’s Red Cross’ 2019 Volunteer of the Year for Customer Service Excellence.

“Maybe there’s a little craziness to it, but hopefully it’s just having a good heart and wanting to do the right thing,” she said.

With Dorian expected to intensify as it heads southeast, Parkinson is heading to North Carolina.

“This go around, I’m assigned [to driving] our mobile feeding units, so should there be feeding needs we go out into the neighborhoods and take food to those who can’t get to the store,” she said.

With her husband’s support, it’s Parkinson’s fourth deployment this year.

“I’ve said, ‘Do you want me to say no?’ and he says, ‘How can I say no? What kind of person does that make me if I say no when you want to go and help?’” Parkinson said.

She says her quick responses to calls for help isn’t much of a choice.

“It always goes back to if this were to happen to me would I want somebody there to help me?” she asked.

So far, about 27 Red Cross volunteers from the region will provide disaster relief along the southeast coast. More volunteers could be sent to meet the needs of those areas.