Volunteer Spotlight: A Swedish Wonder Woman


In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 21-27, 2013), Direct Relief is highlighting dedicated volunteers who help make the work possible. Check back each day this week to learn about some of the wonderful people behind the scenes.

For Ingrid Lindgren, the past 15 years of volunteering at Direct Relief have not only been full of good times but also have provided an experience in watching the organization grow.

“I started in the warehouse making packages, sorting out needles, syringes, anything that was of any good,” explains Ingrid of her early days as a volunteer. “There would be piles of vitamins – thousands of vitamins that I would sort through and sometimes it would take me three months to get through a pile.”

At that time, Direct Relief looked very different than it does now, consisting of only an open warehouse.

“We didn’t have any fancy boxes even, we would just use whatever boxes that were left around,” Ingrid remembers of her time packing in the warehouse.

Before joining the Direct Relief volunteer team in 1998, Ingrid held a hodgepodge of different positions throughout her life: from binding books in her native country, Sweden, as a teenager, to raising her three boys – and their many friends – in Boston (“I must have made about 10,000 tacos!”), to spending time taking care of her husband and working at the Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara for 15 years as a Programs Coordinator.

She became one of the legendary Direct Relief Holy Rollers, a group of 16 women who spend their Friday mornings laughing, eating, and transforming clean hotel sheets from the Bacara and Biltmore into bandages to send abroad. So far, the Holy Rollers have together packaged more than 375,000 bandages.

But Ingrid doesn’t stop there. She also spends several mornings at Direct Relief writing striking handwritten thank-you notes to donors; occasionally helps out in the kitchen; and has organized about 60 Direct Relief Midwife Kits. “These cases hold 14 different things… blood pressure cuffs, a beautiful pair of scissors, everything that [the midwives] need.”

But despite the new technology and expanded facilities, the Direct Relief that Ingrid started at holds the same mission as the Direct Relief that exists today – valuing the volunteers like Ingrid that spend such an amazing amount of their time helping improve the health and lives of people around the world.

Ingrid’s commitment to serving wherever necessary helps Direct Relief to continue to assist hundreds of thousands of people locally, nationally, and internationally. Thank you, Ingrid!

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