When Donnie Beer talks about the Red Cross, she always starts by explaining how the organization helped her in 1961 when she was a young wife with a husband deployed to France.
She was alone in the U.S. with two children and struggling, so the organization brought him home for a two-week leave.
These days, her story continues with anecdotes about those she met in New York City after Superstorm Sandy -- fellow volunteers from across the country and the people who needed them.
It takes prodding, however, to get the Beaufort city councilwoman, who has been named the volunteer of the year for the Lowcountry Chapter of the Red Cross, to talk about her contributions.
Beer said she simply does what is needed: "That's part of being with the Red Cross."
A Red Cross volunteer for 15 years, Beer is a Beaufort Disaster Action Team coordinator and frequently responds to fires at all hours of the day and night, sometimes even riding up in her golf cart, said Jeanne Carmichael, regional specialist for the chapter's Service to the Armed Forces.
Locally, she helps with the armed-forces program, which provides support for military families. She also is training to participate in the international services program.
In December, she spent a week in New York helping Sandy victims. She worked as a government-operations liaison supervisor, matching storm victims with government assistance.
Beer also assists with training new volunteers and is organizing orientation.
"She just can exude this aura of attention," Carmichael said. "She is one who homes in on what the issue is, what the situation is and what she can do."