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Responding to Disaster: A Volunteer’s Story of Service

No one knows the bayou better than 73-year-old Pauline Dillie. For over two decades, she’s traversed the landscape after raging storms and disasters to help people in need.

See Also: Find a Volunteer Opportunity Near You

She’s a familiar face behind the wheel of the red and white American Red Cross emergency response vehicle delivering meals to folks who are stranded by high flood waters after storms. After Hurricane Isaac she opened the Raceland shelter and managed everything from bedding to food and volunteers.
Desperate situations are her forte. Service is in her blood.

Pauline was just a young girl when her two brothers left home to serve in World War II. Sadly, only one brother returned home alive.

“Her mother sought the assistance of the American Red Cross in having her son’s body returned to the United States,” friend and fellow AARP member Kathleen Cuneo writes. “Pauline remembered her mother’s gratitude and enduring respect for this organization. The seeds of service implanted by this event eventually blossomed into Pauline’s own desire to assist others through the American Red Cross.”

Fires. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Floods. Pauline responds to people in need in desperate situations.

“I love helping people and after retiring, I’m free to be able to do this,” said Pauline. “It’s great satisfaction to serve. It means a lot to me. I enjoy connecting people in need to organizations that serve.”

AARP Louisiana has awarded Pauline as the 2012 winner of the AARP State Andrus Award for Community Service, the association’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award for community service.

The award symbolizes an individual’s power and ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

“Pauline is a woman of many gifts who readily shares her time, expertise and presence with whoever is in need and, in turn, enhances the quality of their life,” Kathleen wrote in the award application. “To serve, not to be served – the motto of Dr. Ethyl Percy Andrus is a hallmark of Pauline Dillie’s life.”

A life-long Houma resident, Pauline raised five children and enjoys her 10 grandchildren. She serves in various community organizations including the Terrebonne food bank, Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana, St. Bernadette Soubirous Catholic Church, and AARP Chapters in Terrebonne Parish and Morgan City.
In 2011, she gave 682 hours of volunteer service and so far this year she’s given 977 service hours.

“Pauline is a thoughtful and committed person who, in her own quiet way and strengthened by a courageous heart and spirit, is contributing to a changing world,” said Kathleen.

Pauline describes herself as being an organizer who likes to stay busy. After a career in retail and at Terrebonne General Hospital, it’s no wonder she understands service. She also cares for her 91-year old brother and his wife.

“Pauline has the heart of a volunteer and community servant – someone who is willing to give without anything in return, someone who is willing to lead. AARP is honored to give her the Andrus award,” said Dr. Brenda Hatfield, AARP Louisiana State President.

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