Larry Wiedenhoft, an IBM software engineer in Beaverton, Oregon, became a disaster response volunteer in 2009 with the Oregon Trail Red Cross chapter. Since then he has helped with over 10 natural disasters, providing relief to victims in many ways. He is a member of the Disaster Action Team and makes himself available 24x7 for any need that may arise. He also conducts Red Cross volunteer training sessions on a weekly basis in the city of Portland and in Oregon’s coastal towns.
From Oregon to Tennessee
This spring, Larry’s commitment took him beyond Oregon when devastating weather in the Midwest and Southeastern United States caused a flooding along the Mississippi River. The Red Cross asked their volunteers nationwide to make themselves available for deployment to the hardest hit areas.
When Larry told his IBM management that he might be needed, they were very supportive, reflecting IBM's commitment to giving back to the community. When Larry got the call from the Red Cross, he was able to leave that night, traveling over 2300 miles from Portland, Oregon to Memphis, Tennessee.
Once in Memphis, Larry was deployed as a technology specialist with a primary job of taking a vacant building and turning it into a functioning disaster headquarters, complete with two satellite communication links, 50+ workstations, printers, fax machines, networking and radio communications. In less than a week, the Red Cross assembled over 500 staff and tons of supplies to feed, shelter, and comfort the thousands of people affected by the flooding.
During his two week deployment, he was also able to visit several Red Cross shelters and help provide services and supplies directly to clients.
“I’ve never done anything as rewarding as the simple act of providing a hot meal and a safe place to sleep for someone in need,” states Larry. “I had never worked so hard in my life and, right alongside me, were hundreds of wonderful Red Cross volunteers and local folks, all tirelessly focused on the mission at hand. It was an experience I will never forget, and I am so thankful for my management and IBM’s commitment that made it possible for me to participate in such a worthwhile operation.”
Volunteer recognition and support
Larry’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. He was recognized as the Oregon Trail Red Cross Volunteer of the Month in January and he received the Spirit of Red Cross Excellence Award in April 2011.
This year, Larry has logged more than 300 hours in IBM’s On Demand Community program and he plans to apply for a Community Grant to help support Red Cross programs. On Demand Community is a global community that combines the skills of over 200,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, training, and support.
He is committed to continuing to support natural disaster relief work with the Red Cross and spends as much time as he can with preparedness work so when a disaster happens, communities are prepared.
IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.