'So grateful:' MCTS driver Natalie Barnes named 'Hero of the Year' at Red Cross event

MILWAUKEE — The American Red Cross of Southeast Wisconsin honored Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) Driver Natalie Barnes as its Hero of the Year at the 14th annual Brave Hearts Awards on Thursday, May 9.

Barnes made international headlines in November 2018 when a MCTS Excellence video went viral, showing her taking extraordinary steps to help a homeless man. Barnes bought the man food, let him stay warm on her bus, offered to go shopping for him and ultimately connected him with a safe place to live.

Hundreds of media outlets across the globe have highlighted Barnes’ actions in recent months. She has also captured the attention of millions of people on social media, including celebrities like Kelly Clarkson and Ellen DeGeneres. Additionally, Time Magazine honored Barnes as an ‘Everyday Hero of 2018’ in its annual ‘Person of the Year’ edition.

“I’m just grateful that my story is inspiring people around the world and bringing attention to the important effort of reducing homelessness,” Barnes said recently. “There are so many easy things people can do to help the less fortunate in their community.”

In Milwaukee, Barnes works with Community Advocates to help individuals and families who need housing or supportive services.

"I want to congratulate Natalie Barnes on being named Hero of the Year by the Red Cross," said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. "It is a testament to the hard work and commitment she brings every day to MCTS; not only to keep riders in Milwaukee County moving every day, but to go beyond her call of duty as a public servant to ensure this resident found access to the high-quality, responsive services he deserves. Drivers like Natalie make us proud every day, and this well-deserved achievement is why nearly 100,000 riders a day rely on MCTS to keep them moving throughout our community."

Natalie Barnes

The American Red Cross of Southeast Wisconsin's Brave Hearts Awards program recognizes individuals who have prevented life-threatening situations from occurring, come to the aid of another, or contributed to the safety of the community. MCTS salutes all of this year's other honorees and thanks them for their actions.