La Crosse, WI (WXOW) ------ "The Jefferson Award" is the Nobel prize for public service and a prestigious award that honors volunteers in our community. This month we recognize Jane Ramey, a retired nurse who dedicates her free time to serving others affected by natural disasters. Jane runs the Black River Falls office of the American Red Cross Scenic Bluffs Chapter.
If you really want to know why she got so involved with the red cross and helping others you first, have to know her story. "I remember my grandson called me at 6:30 in the morning...and I'll never forget that call. He said Grandma, I think daddy's dead. He's cold and I can't wake him up so I went down the road quick, I even started CPR but I knew...it was the nurse in me or the mom in me that knew we would never revive him."
That was six years ago when Jane's son, Brian died in his sleep. To deal with the grief, Jane signed up to go to help with Hurricane Katrina.... I thought initially it would be ok for me to go but then I thought I wouldn't do those people any good. So Jane tended to her grandson and she went to hurricanes, floods and tornadoes as they happened in the U.S.
With ever person she helped she says she felt more at peace until she got home.....and the police came looking for her grandson. "They took him away in handcuffs and I just sobbed," said Jane. Even though Jane has helped hundreds of people at times she admits to second guessing her decision. I felt like oh if I hadn't gone maybe he wouldn't be in the mess he was in and he wouldn't be because I would have been there but she also wouldn't be who she is now..... a strong women who uses her own pain to help others. "I think it's made me more compassionate because if someone loses everything I kind of compare it to what I've gone through for the last four years and I think the worst thing that can ever happen is losing a child and I'm like...here I am.
When Jane isn't volunteering at the Red Cross, she goes kayaking .....and spends time with her very curious kitten.... but she credits volunteering for helping her heal...and has this advice for anyone who's hurting. "Join the red cross or go help people because I know what it's done for me. It saved my life. It literally saved my life and I will be forever grateful."