By BILL TUCKER
If you had the opportunity to know Donna Meder, then you had the opportunity to gain immeasurably from a wonderful, giving person who changed the world by caring for others every second of her life.
The list of all she has done for her community and for our world is long; if you take just one part of it, her service as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team and Service to Armed Forces volunteer, you can fill a phone book with the names of all those that Donna helped. Often with husband Charlie by her side, this blessed couple would hit the road in the middle of a cold February night to help a family that had just lost their home to fire; work 18 hour days for weeks on end to help local residents impacted by severe floods; or hop on a plane and travel into the chaos of a major hurricane, where they would immediately get to work to shelter and feed and hug people who had suffered the loss of everything. In short, Donna gave of herself in the most unselfish of manners, that of enduring hardship to ease the pain of others. For this we can never repay her; we can simply say, "Thank you Donna."
If you ever asked Donna why she did so much for others, you would hear her say that it began with the life she so enjoyed here in Chautauqua County. When Donna and Charlie were awarded the Distinguished Service Award in Memory of Amy King by the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York in October, and simultaneously named the county's Red Cross Volunteers of the Year, Donna told us something that she had said many times before: "I have been so lucky to raise a wonderful family in this beautiful community that I want to give something back. Besides, when you give you get more in return."
Donna gave us so much. She was a wonderful person who loved her family above all else, a dedicated supporter of her community, and a dear friend to the Red Cross. She will be greatly missed by all, to include those of us in her Red Cross family who depended on her so much. Thank you, Donna.
Bill Tucker is executive director of the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York.