Red Cross volunteer Frank “Mac” McNell and his boss Marshal Matney are US Army veterans and great friends. They operate a small cigar shop in Universal City, TX, near San Antonio.  McNell began volunteering with the Red Cross just after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He says his Army experiences, people skills, and leadership … he was a Sergeant Major … led him to the Red Cross and gave him the ability to help on his first Red Cross missions. 

The friendship with Matney became very important when hurricanes struck Louisiana in 2020.  Matney supported McNell big-time, giving Mac time off to go on Red Cross missions there. Says Mac, “During the three-plus months dealing with the weather disasters, he supported both me and the San Antonio chapter as we provided help and support to the evacuees. He worked six days a week by himself with only Sundays off.”

To show his and the Red Cross’s appreciation, Mac arranged for Regional Disaster Officer Andy Lopez to create a certificate of appreciation for  Marshal. The certificate honored his contributions to McNell’s volunteering efforts with the Red Cross. Matney was thrilled! McNell says, “He had the biggest grin on his face all day. He placed the certificate on the shop wall right away after showing it to everyone. You would have thought he had just received the highest award from anywhere.”

Frank McNell had to take some time away from the Red Cross to care for his mother at her home. Upon his return to the Red Cross, McNell served in many ways, including the role of Roving Shelter Manager in Louisiana: “I was the boots on the ground and eyes at the shelter for management. I would travel every day to help the manager in charge with staffing, supplies, and any other problems they had.” McNell’s favorite Red Cross stories always include “the look on people’s faces, young and old, when they see [Red Cross members]. They know there is some hope, even though you have heard the story 100 times, just listening to them with water or a snack, the look on their faces is of relief. The tears come out because someone is listening to them.”

Besides the Red Cross, McNell’s passions include “people, taking care of my mother, the older people in my neighborhood, friends, and the outdoors.” He also likes to tell the story of performing a so-called HALO jump … which is a stratosphere-high jump from an airplane at 33,000 feet!  And he reiterates his friendship with Marshal Matney: “[he] is a fellow vet, a great friend, and a brother to me.”

Written by Aimee Kendall, West Texas Chapter volunteer, edited by Michael A. Brown, Austin volunteer