Joplin tornado survivor finds career helping others as a disaster program specialist

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Posted at 4:23 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 17:23:05-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Teri Layton doesn’t like to sit around. So when a tornado destroyed the restaurant where she worked in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, she volunteered to help others.

10 years later, she’s still helping people, but now it’s her career not in a temporary voluntary role.

“I spent my whole life becoming the person that does this job, that does this work,” Layton said. “Every experience of my life brought me to this place right here today.”

Today, she lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and works for the American Red Cross as a disaster program specialist.

Her role varies from recruiting and training volunteers, to teaching communities how to prepare for disasters. She even responds to disasters herself.

From hurricanes to house fires, she’s seen it all. What she loves seeing is how people recover from those tragedies.

“When your heart gets this involved, you just can’t bring yourself to go away. You know people need you,” Layton said.

Anyone interested in working with the American Red Cross, visit the volunteer section of its website.