Eau Claire (WQOW) - A volunteer is someone willing and ready to help, many times at a moments notice. That description fits Tracy Nelson perfectly.
"One day there was an ad on the TV for Red Cross, they were looking for volunteers," said Tracy. "I went down to Barstow Street walked in and told the receptionist, I said what can I do?"
That was 15 years ago, since then Tracy has devoted over 3,000 hours to helping others. Each hour spent, with a smile on her face, and a positive attitude that's downright contagious.
"She's very willing to get in there and do whatever is needed to help the people of the community," says Linda Soltis-Schroeder, volunteer coordinator for the Red Cross.
When flooding forced people in Arcadia out of their homes last fall, Tracy was one of the first to drop everything and lend a hand. "She helped open the shelter, staff that shelter, work with the people and was one of those local volunteers that stepped up right away to kind of get things in place right within that first hour," said Jenny Legaspi, director of Red Cross emergency services.
In the Nelson household, volunteering is a family affair. You can often find Tracy's daughters right along side her. "It's just so nice that they learn there are people that are less fortunate than us that need the help, that need that support," commented Tracy. "You don't have to have a million hours a week to volunteer, even one or two makes a big difference."
Aside from responding to disasters, both local and national, Tracy also spends a lot of time in the classroom teaching CPR, AED and first aid courses.
She is also helping to get Eau Claire County's Medical Reserve Corps off the ground. Tracy serves on the board, and is training volunteers who will be called up to help in the event of a local disaster.