My commitment to society & the environment: How Barbara Lunzer is taking responsibility at the Red Cross

01. 03. 2023

Barbara Lunzer is an Innovation Manager at Rail Cargo Group. In her free time, she coordinates volunteers in the "Logistics" unit of the Vienna Red Cross disaster relief service and makes sure that everyone can do their best.

Our blog series “My commitment to society & the environment” tells stories of RCG staff who help preserve our environment and contribute to society in their spare time.

It all began with the refugee crisis in 2016, when around two million people from Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries sought a new home in Europe. Barbara Lunzer wanted to help and spontaneously signed up with Team Austria. She immediately took a liking to working for the aid platform set up by the Austrian Red Cross and Hitradio O3: "I met a lot of great people and got a good idea of what refugees go through."

Being able to help sustainably

As time went on, Barbara got to know the structures and processes of Team Austria better and better. She gained an overview, and noticed what was working and where things could be better: "I would often go to new places, hand out food spontaneously and was happy to be able to help. But I could also see that the processes used to be better and wondered why things kept being done differently." These moments brought Barbara closer and closer to a decision. What if we could contribute not only on an ad hoc basis, but in a sustainable way? When you make a long-term commitment and don't just help spontaneously and then leave again.

From support to on-call management

Some time later, Barbara moved from Team Austria to the Vienna Red Cross and took on more responsibility. As deputy head of the on-call team, she takes care of the logistics of the disaster relief service. The team that Barbara coordinates comprises around 20 people. When the phone rings, the response has to be quick: calling staff, organising vehicles, making sure that things are ready at the warehouse and getting an idea of where they need to be delivered to. Barbara says, "We take care of everything behind the scenes to make sure it all works. Our logistics personnel on the ground are fully occupied and have other things to do." The sometimes stressful nature of the work site also has a certain appeal for Barbara, and when time permits, she also lends a hand herself: "I am one of the few people who has a truck driver's licence. When I'm needed, I of course drive."

It feels good to contribute

Although the disaster relief team is prepared for just about anything – from flooding to a snowed-in motorway – Barbara is not constantly on alert: "Thankfully, such events are very rare. Most of the time, we use our logistics knowledge to ensure that big events like concerts, football matches and races run smoothly." And that is probably what motivates Barbara to keep going: "I love the variety and just enjoy being around people. The fact that I can also do something meaningful and train my leadership skills is a fantastic bonus.”