Esther Lau has given comfort to families facing hard times in Oklahoma, Alabama and New Jersey this year as a Red Cross disaster relief volunteer.
“It’s been a busy year,” says Lau, who started volunteering with the Red Cross after Sept. 11 because she wanted to do more than donate money.
In March, she was on the scene after a tornado hit Enterprise High School in Alabama during the school day, killing eight people.
“We made some condolence calls to tell families we were there for support,” explains Lau about the town, which suffered millions of dollars in damage.
In April, she helped immigrant families from South America, Haiti and others living in New Jersey who were hit by flooding from a powerful nor’easter. She helped residents replace medical equipment and prescriptions.
Lau then traveled to Oklahoma to assist victims of the flood that hit the state in June. Lau manned Red Cross headquarters to squelch problems and field questions about what the Red Cross can do to help.
“I really enjoy it; it is a very gratifying experience,” she says. “They (volunteers) are super people and very kind.”
Lau does all her Red Cross volunteer efforts while maintaining her full-time job managing a medical practice. Volunteering is something the Roosevelt High grad started doing long ago at a home for disabled children. These days, in addition to flying to various parts of the country to help others in time of need, she volunteers four hours a week in the newborn nursery at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
“It’s a happy place,” she says. “I help the nurses with whatever they need. It sort of balances out the other volunteer work I do.”
She appreciates the support of her husband Bill and her grown children Travis and Emily. When she isn’t busy working and volunteering, she loves to travel, work out every day, read, and spend time with her black poodle Cookie and mini-dachshund Lucy.
One of the most interesting parts of volunteering, Lau says, is that the Red Cross briefs volunteers on the different cultures and practices they’ll encounter when they help out.
One thing she keeps in mind is that when disasters happen, there is change.
“I go with the flow and learn to cope with it,” Lau says. “I don’t mind the changes, this is the way it is. I really enjoy the idea that I’m able to help someone get their life together.”
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