Spotlight On Excellence: J.R. Kitchens

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

Lights. Camera. Action.

On June 25, staff and volunteers attended a chapter awards dinner at Noah’s in Dallas. Switching out their red shirts for sparkling cocktail dresses and dapper button-downed collared shirts, this was a night to recognize the diligent and preserving team members of the American Red Cross North Texas Region.

One award winner, J.R. Kitchens, a jack-of-all-trades volunteer was bestowed the Mentorship Award. This award honors a volunteer whose mentorship had a significant impact on the success of fellow volunteers at the chapter or regional level. The nominated volunteer demonstrates extraordinary patience and a passion for the success of new volunteers and peers. 

Three and a half years ago a devastating tornado ripped through Granbury and Lancaster, Texas. J.R. and his wife witnessed the Red Cross on scene aiding tornado victims, and immediately, he felt the call to action.

“I’ve always been the type of person to run towards a disaster instead high-tailing it in the other direction,” said J.R..

Six months later, he was an on-call canteen driver arriving to locations to pass out food, water and other emergency supplies to disaster victims. Quickly after, he was promoted to Disaster Action Team Captain, in charge of leading the team of volunteers on scene.

J.R. (far left) responding to a home fire in Fort Worth.  

In two years, he has logged more than 1,000 volunteer hours. J.R. has his hand in each cookie jar the Red Cross has to offer. He has helped with client casework, executing shelter operations and currently teaches one or two CPR classes on the weekends.

A native Texan who graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington, J.R. is a medical maintenance and I.T. company business owner by day and a Red Cross volunteer by night.

When I told him he sounded like a superhero, J.R. responded, “Instead of an alter-ego or secret bat-cave, I have my red shirt.”

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