Have you ever given your time to a charity, or volunteered a few hours with a nonprofit?
Jay Wortley has. In fact, it’s been his mission for almost 20 years. Born in Phenix City Alabama, he spent years moving to various places; from Phenix City to the Jersey shore, to Guantanamo Bay, and back to Phenix City. After enlisting and serving a brief time with the Army, he returned home to attend trade school. He then worked in the car parts business before getting involved with a volunteer fire department and eventually, the American Red Cross.
Jay Wortley became aware of the Red Cross’ mission and need for volunteers in 2002 through the wife of a fellow church member. Coupled with his past experiences and curiosity for natural disasters, he decided to sign up for disaster response training. He started volunteering shortly after as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member. Suited well for the role, he was promoted to Captain of DAT, then coordinator, in which he was responsible for ten counties. He was ultimately promoted to Regional DAT Lead, where he handled logistics and case work.
Several years ago he attended a seminar about the soon to be deployed RC View application. The seminar was a presentation of what dispatch for the Red Cross would look like. Accounting for his years of experience and different roles, most recently as a Regional DAT Lead, he was asked to lead the RC View program for the state. As someone who likes to volunteer and doesn’t like to say no, Mr. Wortley accepted the position and after months of training, now works as paid interim staff teaching others how RC View works.
Asked what keeps him going after 18 years of service, he mentioned his strong belief in helping people. Through his work with the fire department and three deployments with the Red Cross, he saw the destruction natural disasters can cause first hand. He believes passionately in making a difference in someone’s life. Not just through an immediate response, but through rebuilding and making things better than they were before.
Over the years, Mr. Wortley has served in many capacities. In that time, he formed core beliefs about the Red Cross and what it stands for. When asked what he would want people to know about it, he said “the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization, which will help you regardless of race, creed, or religion”. He also mentioned “they have an incredible, passionate and dedicated volunteer base”. After talking with Mr. Wortley and seeing what he has done, we agree.
By: David Rauch / Communications Team, American Red Cross of Alabama