By Ashley Peterson-DeLuca
After retiring from Northwestern Bell Telephone Company in 2003, Chuck Scripter began dedicating his time to volunteer work – and he hasn’t stopped since. He volunteers with the Red Cross, as well as with Habitat for Humanity, building homes as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, and his church.
“I tried to golf. I tried to fish. It doesn’t last,” says Scripter. “Sports just doesn’t satisfy you like when you volunteer.”
Scripter uses his construction expertise to do disaster assessments for the Red Cross. After a disaster, he travels to the affected area to record the damage to houses or apartments, often working with other agencies. His account of the destruction verifies the information Red Cross caseworkers need to help the affected families.
Almost 20 years ago, Scripter went on his first deployment to Pensacola, Florida, to help assess the damage after Hurricane Ivan. Since then, Chuck has been onsite after dozens of storms, fires and floods.
Taking care of building and soul
Scripter’s latest assignments for the Red Cross included the California wildfires and the Miami condominium collapse. As someone who has seen the damage behind the national headlines, he knows that disasters not just affect people’s homes, but their souls as well. Scripter also serves as a Disaster Spiritual Care provider.
“When I was young and first starting out, I couldn’t wait to put up cots or hand out food,” he says. “Once you do all that, you find out that spiritual care has a big impact after a disaster.”
The Red Cross ensures people’s basic needs are met first, but then caseworkers can identify if they need medical, mental or spiritual support. Spiritual Care volunteers like Scripter help individuals draw on their own values and faith to get through the shock and loss.
“Everyone grieves differently. People just need someone to listen,” says Scripter. “When we go to shelters, we walk around and look for someone who is ready to talk. When you make eye contact, they will let you know they want to talk.”
Scripter has seen how those he comforts will in turn want to help others.
“At first survivors often ask, ‘why me?’ But those are questions we can’t answer,” says Scripter.
“After a day or two of being at a shelter, many people start to ask, ‘what can I do to help?’ They know there’s hope and are looking to help others. It is pretty awesome to see.”
Forgetting his own troubles
Scripter is now a beloved grandfather, father and husband living in and giving back to his community in North Platte, Nebraska. But, growing up in cattle country in the northern part of the state wasn’t easy. When times got challenging, the community helped his family out, planting a seed in Scripter’s heart.
“I try to live by the saying ‘make something positive out of a negative.’ One way to do that is volunteering,” he says. “When you volunteer you forget your own troubles.”
Scripter keeps an eye out for individuals who are interested and willing to help others, bringing in more Red Cross volunteers.
“The Red Cross has an opportunity for anyone who is willing. So many are talents needed,” says Scripter.
To find your volunteer opportunity, visit redcross.org/volunteer.