Gets Emotional Describing the Devastation Following His First Red Cross Assignment
When Angel Morales signed-up to volunteer for the American Red Cross, he figured it would take six months before he’d be ready to help people suffering from major disasters.
It was more like six days.
“Can you go out to California? We’ve got wildfires there.” That’s what Angel says he heard when Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager called, less than a week after his initial training as a disaster responder.
“I took a two-day course. It was very good. They gave me the basics for sheltering, feeding, and what they call mass care,” Angel recently told members of the Greater Cleveland Board of Directors. “They said in the classes ‘be ready to do whatever they need you to do to fill in.’ I wound up working at a warehouse, very left of center from what I’ve been doing administration-wise. It was a hands-on kind of job.”
Angel currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Police for the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. Before that, he led security for the Cleveland Browns, after spending more than 25 years with the Cleveland Police Department, “retiring” as Deputy Chief in 1999.
“I think everybody understands that retirement is just a transition to something else. So, I try to give back. And I wanted to do hands-on rather than be a boss all the time, so I figured ‘let me start fresh with the Red Cross.’”
Despite all his years in law enforcement, Angel says the devastation he experienced in California touched his heart. “In a wildfire, it’s different from a hurricane or a storm. Everything is devastated. There’s nothing. It’s burnt to the ground.” He teared-up as he continued, “You can see me get emotional about it. People lose everything, it just touches your heart. You feel it. It doesn’t matter where you come from, you feel the devastation in your heart.”
Still, he calls the two-weeks he spent helping people impacted by the wildfires a great experience. And he commends all the volunteers he met and worked with, people from all across the country and from different walks of life.
“They really make a great contribution.”
The Red Cross is always looking for volunteers to train, so that they can help people affected by disasters big and small, near and far, from wildfires in California to home fires in your community. Visit redcross.org/neo and click the “volunteer” tab to start the application process.