The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois will honor Paul and Sue Brenner of Evanston with the Disaster Relief Award at the organization’s 13th annual Heroes Breakfast on April 21 in Chicago. The Disaster Relief Award is presented to individuals who have exhibited heroic efforts in response to a natural disaster or emergency situation, providing relief to victims through financial or voluntary assistance.
Together, the Evanston couple have a combined 28 years of volunteer service to the American Red Cross. In that time, they have touched thousands of people through the organization they love.
“The American Red Cross every year honors local people for their heroic actions or good deeds,” said Fran Edwardson, chief executive officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “Paul and Sue Brenner stand out in so many ways that make our community proud.”
Both Brenners have had boots on the ground with the Red Cross in the aftermath of tornadoes, fires and floods, both locally and across the country. Through their leadership, they inspire other volunteers and stand beside disaster victims on their worst days to give them hope.
According to the Red Cross the Brenners were a comforting presence after many high-profile national disasters. In the months after 9/11, Ms. Brenner went to New York to help families who were continuing to process their grief. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mr. Brenner volunteered in Alabama and Mississippi as part of the disaster services technology team that was critical in opening shelters.
The couple, who are celebrating 41 years of marriage, said they joined the Red Cross because it was an activity they could do together. But through their unique talents, each found an individual identity within the humanitarian organization.
“The Red Cross is our family,” Ms. Brenner said. “It can be hard work, but the reward of helping other people is the greatest feeling.”