Glendale resident Myrtle Nelson has given about 400 flu shots since she’s been a volunteer with the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Nelson, a retired critical care registered nurse, maintains her nursing license and since retiring has been providing her skills as a nurse to the Red Cross and Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center.
“I knew I couldn’t do nothing,” Nelson said, adding she wanted to keep busy after retirement.
So for the past 15 years the 78-year-old has been volunteering with the Red Cross.
She admits that she didn’t know much about the Red Cross’ services when she first decided to donate her time, but it didn’t take long for Nelson to learn.
She started taking training classes to become a certified Red Cross CPR instructor. And she now teaches adult and infant CPR twice a week and also instructs participants in First Aid. She also helps set up First Aid stations at public events and distributes information and resources about basic First Aid and the services offered at the Red Cross.
The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is knowing that she is making a small contribution to the organization, she said.
“It’s knowing that I can be part of a broader picture,” Nelson said.
She also does her part to train others to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Nelson assists in the training of the members of the Community Emergency Response Team, which consists of residents and leaders who are placed in charge of providing medical attention during a major disaster such as an earthquake. Team members assist the injured until advance medical help arrives.
“These are the people who have to know what to do in an emergency,” she said.
Nelson’s service to the Red Cross hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Myrtle has a lot of insight about the [CPR and First Aid] classes,” said Barbara Bourland, director of preparedness and safety for the Glendale-Crescenta Valley Chapter of the Red Cross. “She’s a leader in respect to the fact that she knows how to take charge.”
Nelson also hasn’t strayed far away from where she worked for 25 years.
Since retiring from Glendale Memorial Hospital, she’s gone back to volunteer her time in the nursing education department.
Nelson volunteers in the administrative office there where she keeps a record of all the nurses who have gone through training to become familiar with new medical equipment and its usage.
But being a service to the Red Cross and the hospital are not where Nelson’s volunteerism ends.
Aside from being a 50-year member of the Montrose Community Church, Nelson is also a trustee. For the past 20 years, she’s been in charge of the church’s finances and along with other trustees, makes decisions about funding allocation, she said.
“We make sure the church is in good shape and work together to discuss funding and the need for funds,” Nelson said.
And with a little support for the congregation, Nelson has combined her volunteer work and opened the church facility for the Red Cross to hold First Aid training classes.
“There are a plethora of places where one can volunteer,” Nelson said.
“It’s about finding out what the needs are fulfilling those needs.”