Debby Dailey, a nurse and Red Cross volunteer, helped thousands of people in 2012.
Last year, Dailey aided those devastated by Hurricane Isaac, Superstorm Sandy and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Her efforts have earned her recognition as an American Red Cross Real Hero.
She is among 16 people and one organization that will be honored at a dinner Friday for their heroic deeds last year.
Dailey said her volunteer deployments come from a love of comforting people during difficult circumstances.
"People ask if I get paid and I say, 'I get payment in my heart you can't buy.' "
The American Red Cross Central Valley chapter is fortunate to have someone like Dailey who is ready to deploy wherever she is needed -- in the Valley or around the world, said Ellen Knapp, the agency's regional chief executive officer.
"It takes a person who believes in the Red Cross mission and has a heart that wants to give back to families who have experienced disasters," Knapp said.
Dailey, 53, has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than 30 years. She said she gets a sense of satisfaction from helping people through tragedies and seeing them gain confidence.
"They truly feel they can get through anything," the Fresno resident said. "That's the reward I get."
Dailey said last year wasn't even her busiest. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, she was deployed about six times to Louisiana and neighboring states -- and also to areas where other hurricanes hit -- over an 18-month period.
She teaches nursing at Fresno City College and is the Red Cross nurse liaison for the Pacific division, which encompasses California, Oregon, Washington and the Pacific islands. She coordinates education and deployment for health service volunteers.
Being chosen as a Real Hero is an honor that allows Dailey to tell the story of the work that she and others do in hopes that more people may volunteer. She is grateful for the public's financial support of Red Cross, making the agency's efforts possible.
"I couldn't do this if good people didn't donate," she said. "So it's a team effort."
Dailey, who also is a former firefighter, remembered advice from her grandmother that in part prompted her to join the Red Cross: "It only takes one person in the world to make a difference, and you could be that person."
The 11th annual Real Heroes dinner will honor Dailey -- who was chosen as ambassador hero -- and the others for their exemplary acts, Knapp said. Nominations were accepted in various categories and then a committee of community leaders selected the winners.
The honorees share the willingness, strength and awareness to help others, often placing themselves in harm's way, Knapp said.
"They are ordinary people," she said, "showing extraordinary courage."
Other "Real Heroes" honorees
Female Good Samaritan: Ruby Linares helped to save a man choking at a Porterville restaurant in May by quickly teaching her father the Heimlich maneuver. Linares, 19, also realized through her training as a nursing assistant that the man was having a stroke and provided aid until paramedics arrived.
Female Youth Hero: Smelling smoke in her family's northeast Fresno home in April, 11-year-old Amber Stewart led her brother, grandparents and uncles out of the burning house.
Male Youth Hero: Four boys -- Robert Vasquez, Victor Vasquez Jr., Gilbert Hogan and George Castillo -- pulled a 3-year-old girl from a Farmersville creek in July and took her to Victor Vasquez Sr., who administered CPR. The girl, Alice Falk, began throwing up and gasped for air.