Volunteering as a Disaster Team Member

Team members on a Firewalk - passing out fire safety literature in susceptible areas - in Summit CountyOur Disaster Action Team (DAT) members are amazing people!

When a family experiences a home fire a two a.m., it is the DAT team that pull themselves from their own beds and respond, bringing a little light into a dark situation. If a building complex catches fire on Thanksgiving Day and requires multiple fire departments to respond and control, DAT team members leave their own families and turkey dinners to serve hot coffee, cold water and other snacks to the fire personnel.

Walter Reddick, DAT volunteer with the Greater Cleveland Chapter, feels that giving people a direction after a disaster has given him a purpose. When asked what made him want to volunteer with the American Red Cross he said he had a stranger show him love and wanted to do the same thing, to better himself and to help create something new in the lives of those with whom he interacts.

For some, volunteering with the Red Cross has been a family affair. Jack Beck, a volunteer with the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, became a volunteer after his father and uncle volunteered with the organization. Once, he responded to a familiar address. When his aunt experienced a home fire, Jack found it was gratifying to be able to provide support as the Red Cross to her.

Many of our volunteers work with families across the United States. When a disaster strikes, they are called up on to report to the scene, even if it is hundreds of miles away. Gene McCray, DAT Team Leader and Logistics Lead for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, has been on 10 disaster relief operations including places as far away as Tampa and South Dakota.

Gene even met the love of his life, Cheryl, through the Red Cross!

It’s not just the two a.m. calls that keep our volunteers busy, many also volunteer in other Red Cross services areas, such as our Service to Armed Forces programs and Disaster Education Preparedness programs. Take for example, Alice Martinez, a volunteer with the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, who volunteers with as DAT member, a Pillowcase Project presenter, a general Community Disaster Education Presentations/Events worker, as part of the Shelter Survey project and provides occasional support to disaster casework and volunteer candidate inquires. Or Mark Morrow, from the Lake to River Chapter, who- in addition to his DAT team responsibilities, volunteers as Office Support at the Jefferson Office location, and recently became an instructor for our health and preparedness classes!

If you are interested in volunteering as a DAT member – or in any of the other positions available with the Red Cross – visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328

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