As the Rodeo-Chediski fires of 2002 swallowed up 500 Rim Country homes, Roxey Bowers did what came naturally -- helped.
The retired Honeywell manager and Red Cross organizer headed down for a series of long days and nights helping to run the Red Cross evacuee center in the Payson High School (PHS) gym.
Once the smoke cleared and the traumatized citizens had returned to their homes, a lot of people might have patted themselves on the back and taken a break. Not Bowers. Within a year, he had volunteered to serve as Disaster Coordinator of Rim Country Disaster Services Unit (RCDSU).
In every crisis for the next four years, Bowers rallied aid and mobilized volunteers.
When those in need sought shelter, he made the arrangements. And on Saturday, after four years of coming through for others, the Red Cross came through for Roxey Bowers, when the American Red Cross Rim Country Disaster Services Unit presented him with a certificate of appreciation as Volunteer Leader of the Grand Canyon Chapter in a Jan. 26 meeting held at Payson Public Library.
Jerry Vanrennes, community services chair for disaster services of Grand Canyon Chapter, observed Saturday that "when Roxey stepped up (as Disaster Coordinator), this (RCDSU) became a very cohesive, very well-organized group."
The former Honeywell senior materials planner developed leadership and organizational skills during a long career which he put to work for victims of disaster in the Rim Country.
He accepted the responsibility both to serve the community and meet an administrative challenge. Although he's stepping down from the coordinator post, he will remain actively involved in the American Red Cross as a volunteer and consultant.
Bowers and his wife first moved to Payson in 1970. Though they relocated to Phoenix in 1972 for convenience of work, they kept their Payson home for weekend and holiday excursions. Shortly after retirement, they made the permanent move to Payson.
He says he volunteers for the "personal satisfaction; knowing that you're giving back to the community; working with great people; meeting new people."
Bowers recounted a favorite story regarding a group of about 40 Muslims essentially trapped in Wal-Mart by heavy snowfall that closed the roads out of Payson.
Police called the Red Cross for help, finding somewhere that such a large group could stay until roads opened. Bowers spent the day battling the snow and lining up help from Parks and Recreation and the school district to arrange for the group to stay in the PHS gym.
"The next morning the Muslims helped clean up the facility and loaded up the materials in the trailer. It was one of the best shelters in my experience," said Bowers
People who volunteer for on-call or evening contact must also "be prepared for the possibility of interrupted sleep (ready for the emergency calls)," cautions Bowers.
Due to family needs, Bowers stepped down as disaster coordinator in 2007, although he remains a volunteer.
"Red Cross is a very good organization to volunteer for, because you help other people constantly; there's free training; it's an opportunity to get involved and give back. I don't see myself ever getting out of Red Cross. I'm here for the duration," said Bowers.
To learn about volunteering, contact Carol Flowers at (928) 472-7294.