May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. 4-year-old Devion Hambrick’s eagerness to help his family characterizes the collaborative spirit of Moore, Oklahoma, in the aftermath of the tornado. With his father’s work gloves, Devion spends all day helping to clear debris from the front yard. Many Oklahoma residents actively partake to help their fellow friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.
May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. 4-year-old Devion Hambrick’s eagerness to help his family characterizes the collaborative spirit of Moore, Oklahoma, in the aftermath of the tornado. With his father’s work gloves, Devion spends all day helping to clear debris from the front yard. Many Oklahoma residents actively partake to help their fellow friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.
Leslie Palmer

Just about this time last year, the San Antonio Spurs were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. And like those games, hard-fought and full of stress and tensions, both Oklahoma and Texas now are fighting a different battle.

From the disastrous tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma to the devastating explosion in West, Texas, communities are coming together to provide the support and resources needed to restore their neighbors’ lives. The American Red Cross is really not that different; we are one united front. Working together, each state and each chapter combines its resources and efforts to ensure the victims of disasters get what they need to recover and rebuild.

May 21, 2013. Moore Oklahoma. Christopher Hood, a mechanic from Oklahoma City, takes a leave of absence to help tornado victims recover their most precious belongings. Although not much can be salvaged, Christopher manages to compile a stack of photo albums. He explains, ?"People were coming up to me asking if they could help with anything, and I?m the one coming in to help out.?" Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.
May 21, 2013. Moore Oklahoma. Christopher Hood, a mechanic from Oklahoma City, takes a leave of absence to help tornado victims recover their most precious belongings. Although not much can be salvaged, Christopher manages to compile a stack of photo albums. He explains, ?”People were coming up to me asking if they could help with anything, and I?m the one coming in to help out.?” Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.

That’s why I’ve been in Oklahoma for days now. When disaster struck, San Antonio and Oklahoma City became two cities with a common cause. The American Red Cross is proud to have volunteers from San Antonio and across the state of Texas working tirelessly for Oklahoma. I am one among many. This is my job.

As a San Antonian and a Red Crosser, I know that the Spurs and the Thunder may have been rivals on the court but are now working together to help the families in Oklahoma recover from devastation. Heck, as a Texan (even if I did only get their as fast as I could), I know Texas and Oklahoma have a healthy rivalry for just about everything!

Sport fans know that the attributes of a successful team are unity, compassion, tenacity and gumption. And those attributes pulled together are what your Red Cross volunteers and staff are putting into their work for the families of Oklahoma every day.

May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. A Red Cross worker assesses the destruction inflicted upon Moore, Oklahoma. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.
May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. A Red Cross worker assesses the destruction inflicted upon Moore, Oklahoma. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.

Just yesterday, Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s star players, exemplified these traits on behalf of Oklahoma. Not only did he contribute to the disaster relief by stocking an emergency response vehicle with supplies necessary to keep a shelter up and running, but he also lifted the spirits of Oklahomans and local Red Cross volunteers by touring the devastation in Moore. We are all neighbors. We are all friends.

Being a part of this response is amazing. I am privileged to work side by side with truly incredible people – Texans, Oklahomans and others from across the country. As a responder, the days are long, a real meal is a challenge and rest is limited but the rewards are great. The challenges we face pale before those faces by families who have lost everything, including their loved ones.

Communities need to be rebuilt. Grief needs to take its course. But through it all the Red Cross is here. Working with our partners, we are making a difference – one meal at a time, one toothbrush at a time, one hug at a time.

Say a little prayer or offer up a kind thought for the people impacted and all those who have come to help. Better yet, please make a donation, whatever you can afford. $100 is good, $1,000 would be incredible, but $25 is just fine. Click here to donate. Every dollar counts, especially if you are a family whose life has been reduced to rubble and homelessness.

May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. 4-year-old Devion Hambrick’s eagerness to help his family characterizes the collaborative spirit of Moore, Oklahoma, in the aftermath of the tornado. With his father’s work gloves, Devion spends all day helping to clear debris from the front yard. Many Oklahoma residents actively partake to help their fellow friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.
May 21, 2013. Moore, Oklahoma. 4-year-old Devion Hambrick’s eagerness to help his family characterizes the collaborative spirit of Moore, Oklahoma, in the aftermath of the tornado. With his father’s work gloves, Devion spends all day helping to clear debris from the front yard. Many Oklahoma residents actively partake to help their fellow friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross.

San Antonio is in Oklahoma City again this year, just as it was last year, but this time for a very different reason. Everyone here needs all the support they can get. American Red Cross Texans are standing together with Oklahomans as we deal with the devastating effects of these spring storms as one Red Cross, one community of neighbors.

With 30 years of professional experience in development, marketing, and emergency & business management, Leslie Palmer has found a home at the American Red Cross. As the Assistant Vice President for Development of the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division, Palmer serves as a fundraising strategist and consultant for Red Cross chapters and region in nine states. When she is not traveling for her Red Cross work, she lives in San Antonio with her husband, Rudy Ledesma.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.