By Mark Cline, American Red Cross Volunteer
(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays written by volunteers for the American Red Cross in the Northeast Ohio Region)
From my earliest memories, I can remember volunteering with my family, which taught me the value of giving back. In Boy Scouts I obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. I was also an Explorer Scout with the Wickliffe Fire Department. That turned into a 20 year job of being a part-time fire fighter/EMT. I later went to work for Continental Airlines, where I was on their Emergency Response Team, and I was an Explorer Post Adviser working with teens in an Aviation Post sponsored by Continental Airlines. On one of my assignments, I worked an aircraft crash in Buffalo, NY, where 51 souls were lost.
After working some very physical jobs over the years, my back developed issues and I began to receive Social Security Disability, but I wasn’t ready to retire to a rocking chair. Working with Lake County RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), they introduced me to the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team in the Greater Cleveland Chapter. All my emergency training and experience pulled together in one organization. I currently hold a number of positions with Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services (DCS). I’m a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Leader, Administrator-on-call, DAT Induction Trainer, Pillowcase Presenter and DCS Volunteer Partner to our Disaster Program Manager.
Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services Volunteer Partner Mark Cline, assisting residents who were affected by home fires in Greater Cleveland
All of these positions allow me the chance to give back in many different ways. Being on call I get a chance to be instrumental in someone’s life. When the team responds, we help people who hours before didn’t know what hit them. Then we train and plan for the next response. I am able to work along side WONDERFUL co-volunteers and employees, knowing that whatever challenge comes around the corner, we’ll be able to respond.
I may be on disability, but that doesn’t make me totally disabled. Someday a rocking chair may be a major part of my day, but not right now. The Red Cross gives me the ability to help and enjoy life, being part of amazing team or even more like a family. There will be another disaster around the corner. I don’t know when, I don’t know what, I just know I’ll be part of the team responding to it. Tomorrow there maybe time for that rocking chair and sleeping in, but today I’ve got things to do and places to go, and people to see!
Mark Cline just celebrated his first anniversary as a Red Cross Volunteer. He lives in Euclid, and serves residents of the Greater Cleveland Chapter.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, or to begin an application, visit our volunteer page or call 216-431-3328. To help the Red Cross train volunteers and provide them with the resources needed to assist people who experience disasters, big and small, visit our Giving Day page.