Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pikes Peak Volunteer Receives Top Red Cross Honor

Pikes Peak region volunteer Debby MacSwain laughs when she says she never expected to win the Harriman award for excellence in volunteerism. But her 45 years of service to The American Red Cross are serious business. And as a result of her wide-ranging and dedicated efforts, she did receive the Harriman award, the Red Cross’ highest honor for volunteer service, this year. “I’d look every year to see who won [the award], and I wouldn’t ever give a second thought to ever winning it,” she said. “I wouldn’t even think to try to get it; it always went to other people who had done a lot more.”

It is hard to think of many ways Debby could have done more for the Red Cross during her exceptional and enduring volunteer career. Debby began volunteering for the Red Cross as a recent college graduate in the late 1960s. She jumped into the deep end with her first volunteer assignment in Vietnam as a “Donut Dollie.” Following her deployment to Vietnam, Debby dedicated the next four and a half decades of her life to the Red Cross, primarily in service to the Armed Forces. Though her engagement with the Red Cross has ranged from water safety to global deployments, Debby’s recent projects have included work on a memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring Red Cross volunteers who have passed away, and working with the Legacy Program to recognize volunteers who have worked in combat zones.

This year's Harriman award was given at a ceremony at Red Cross Headquarters in Washington DC on Oct. 24. The ceremony also honored North Carolina volunteer Elaine Lyerly and actor, director and activist Sean Penn for his work in Haiti. Debby said she didn’t introduce herself to Mr. Penn, but that the entire experience did make her “feel like a star for one night.”

Debby MacSwain at the Harriman Award ceremony, center, with friends Julie Berger (left) and Jackie Walters (right)
Despite her decades of volunteer service, Debby is still humbled by the experience of receiving the award. “It’s more than an honor,” she said. Read more about Debby and her award here.

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