Shoba Brown

The Midland Empire cannot contain Shoba Brown's spirit of helping others.

Ms. Brown, of Maryville, Mo., volunteers in the community and nationwide for the American Red Cross, driving the emergency response vehicle (ERV) wherever disaster strikes.

The ERV provides meals, snacks, drinks and other items to those affected by things like hurricanes, tornadoes and other events.

She said conversations with people provide the greatest satisfaction. For example, she makes an effort to be kind to utility workers who usually hear nothing but grief from people desperate to have their electricity or water restored. She also provides an outlet for those who just need a shoulder to lean on, such as a lady who walked across the street during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy because her mother was driving her nuts.

"People are suffering and here you show up with a smile and food; your basic comfort," Ms. Brown said. "You see a smile on their faces and you give them a chance to talk. It's almost instant gratification."

Ms. Brown also travels to her native India each year to recruit new students for Northwest Missouri State University.

Clinton Thomas can be reached at clinton.thomas@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPThomas.