By Nelda Figueiredo
Ron and Marti Ellis, long time Red Crossers, have had an incredible impact on the South Florida community through their tireless volunteer work with the organization.
The Ellises have always wanted to make a difference in the community and felt the need to act and join the Red Cross in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
“We wanted to step up and to be a part of something; 9-11 gave us that extra push to begin,” said Ron and Marti, who work throughout the South Florida Region and are a fixture in the Broward office.
Ron and Marti have since played a pivotal role on the Disaster Mental Health Team. The duties of American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Workers (DMHW) include easing the emotional distress of people who have survived a disaster. Over the years, Ron and Marti also have trained other volunteers to be disaster mental health workers.
The hard work of these two devoted Red Crossers does not go unnoticed.
Ron and Marti are due to be recognized on May 15 by The Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida at its 17th Annual EPIC luncheon and awards ceremony for Exceptional People Impacting the Community (EPIC).
The EPIC Awards are given to those who have devoted their time to the public good and have contributed to the behavioral health of people within their community. The EPIC Award has honored public officials, advocates, journalists, celebrities and service providers for the past 17 years.
Ron and Marti have developed many teams and have trained them to help families cope with the stress and anxiety that occurs after being affected by a disaster. “It is a group effort; Ron and I could not do this all on our own,” Marti said.
The couple work alongside caring volunteers who assist individuals and their families in the most difficult of times.
“They are extremely valuable, and they are true leaders,” said Sylvia Taylor, who oversees Direct Services in South Florida, the department Ron and Marti report to.
“They have developed and brought focus to the team,” she said of the dynamic duo. “They keep everyone engaged, which at times can be a challenge.”
The couple’s passion also sees them continually sharing their Red Cross stories with the community in an effort to encourage others to sign up and give back.“It feels good to volunteer and it feels like we keep getting much more than we give,” Ron said. “It shows humanity and compassion in the making.”