Crye-Leike Agent Vickie York Gives Hope to Disaster Victims

Nashville, Tenn. – Brentwood resident Vickie York of Crye-Leike, Realtors was recently named a supervisor for the American Red Cross’ national relief efforts, an accomplishment that represents four years of volunteer service during six national disasters.

“Real estate is what I do, but the Red Cross is what I love,” said York.

York became involved with the American Red Cross officially after the country’s 9/11 terrorist attack.  Prior to that, she had worked locally with blood donation drives and disaster relief for tornado-stricken areas.  However, the devastating terrorist scene in New York City moved her to do more.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks, York wanted to distribute American flags to show her support for our nation.  No flags were available in the area, so on the Thursday following 9/11, York went to Crye-Leike, Realtor’s marketing department for help.   She purchased leftover American flags from the company’s Fourth of July celebration. Using Crye-Leike’s resources, York was able to distribute over 700 flags to neighborhoods in her area.

“People were so grateful,” she said.  York decided to send follow-up flyers to the people whom she had given flags.  She wanted to provide those same people with the resources necessary to make donations or do volunteer work.

During her research for the flyer, she found the “volunteer” icon on the American Red Cross’ Web site.  Shortly thereafter, she began taking classes to train herself for Red Cross volunteer work on a national level.

York finished her training with the Red Cross at the end of November 2001.  One week later, she was in New York City to aid in the 9/11 relief.  York marks her first disaster relief experience as “life-changing”.

While in New York, she worked as a technician at the “Fresh-Kills” landfill, an Indian term meaning “fresh river”.  There, she supported investigators sifting through debris brought from Ground-Zero on barges to search for human remains, some as small as fingernails.  Her post was classified as a crime scene, and she remained there during the month of December, returning just two days before Christmas.

Since that time, York has rendered her services in such disasters as the wind storms in Memphis and Hurricanes Isabelle in Virginia Beach in 2003 and this year’s Charley, Frances and Jeanne in Florida.

“The work is exhausting,” she said.  “You work so hard for weeks or even months at a time, but I love it because it is so personally rewarding to help so many people.”

York sites her supportive family and her career as a Realtor as the keys to her success as an American Red Cross volunteer.  She and her husband, Mike, work as a husband and wife real estate team, affiliated with Crye-Leike’s Brentwood East branch office, located at 5055 Maryland Way.

Being self-employed allows her to make the minimum three-week commitments necessary to be one of Red Cross’ national disaster relief team members.  Her husband and their real estate team meet the needs of her clients while she is on duty as a Red Cross volunteer.

York’s knowledge of real estate and homeowners’ insurance has benefited her during her most recent six-week experience with Florida’s hurricane victims.    Since FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) could not provide assistance until an insurance adjuster surveyed damaged properties, many victims were cornered in their desperate conditions.  Using her experience in real estate, York was able to propel insurance company cooperation.  She secured adjuster visits that facilitated much-needed help for many of the damaged homes in the storm’s wake.

“It is so empowering to make that call to the insurance adjuster” York said.  “I have actually had adjusters come out that afternoon after the family had been waiting for weeks.  I received a note from one family that said, ?We will never, ever forget you.'”

Prior to becoming a supervisor for the American Red Cross, York worked as a technician, involved in areas of mass care and family services.  She reached out by going door-to-door at disaster sites, looking for victims who might be in need of her help.

“I enjoy being a Red Cross supervisor, but I loved being a tech,” she said.  “As a tech, I got to have more one-on-one contact with the disaster victims.  But now, I can help more people by supervising a team of techs.”

Although York was certified to become an American Red Cross supervisor before Hurricane Charlie, it was not until Vero Beach’s Hurricane Frances that she was put into action.  The people there endured two hurricanes in three weeks after a 40-year hurricane drought.

In Vero Beach, Fla., York supervised a shelter that contained 1,200 people ranging in ages from three days to 91-years-old.  In that shelter, she and 1,200 others weathered Hurricane Jeanne, the year’s second most intense storm.  Amid the chaos, she and her staff provided the sheltered people with three meals a day, despite a leaking roof and lack of electricity.

York notes that the American Red Cross is always in need of volunteers.  Although it is possible to volunteer at the local level without classes, York recommends that all people receive volunteer training from the Red Cross.  “Even if you do not go help with national disasters,” she said, “the knowledge is still important to have so you do not become a disaster victim yourself.”

To sign up for classes, or for more information about volunteering at the local level, contact the Nashville Area American Red Cross at 615-250-4300.

Crye-Leike (www.crye-leike.com), a full service real estate company for 27 years, is the nation’s 10th largest real estate company and the largest serving Tennessee and the Mid-South. Crye-Leike’s Brentwood East branch office is one of 19 branch offices and one franchise office in nine counties throughout Crye-Leike’s Middle Tennessee Region. Crye-Leike has a network of over 2,850 sales associates and 80 branch and franchise offices located in 42 counties throughout a six-state southern region in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida.