Triangle Red Cross volunteer provides ‘psychological first aid’ during California fires

November 13, 2018

With the death toll climbing to 42 on Monday night, destructive wildfires have now become the deadliest in California history.

With dozens dead and more than 6,000 homes destroyed, Red Cross volunteer Judy Nicholson will leave the comfort of her Hillsborough home to head toward the devastation.

For Nicholson, volunteer work is a calling, one she decided to answer in 1995 during Hurricane Opal. After 23 years, she continues to provide help where she is needed.

“It’s kind of in me now when I see something that serious and that major,” she said.

Nicholson is one of many going to California to provide aid and relief in many capacities. Her job, though, is one that doesn’t often make headlines.

“We also provide what we call psychological first aid for the other Red Crossers and the clients in the disaster,” she said.

The Red Cross sent more than 7,000 shelter supplies and 15,000 home supplies. They’re also sending more people like Nicholson.

“You’re here to help. You’re here to give people a listening ear, to bear witness to their tragedy,” Nicholson said.

As she packs the essentials, she said her sense of purpose is the most important thing to bring with her to California.

“If I can help one fainting robin onto its nest again, I’ve not lived in vain,” she said.

Nicholson said she plans to be in California for about two weeks.

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