Veteran Police Officer Returns from CA Wildfire Response

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.

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Red Cross volunteer Angel Morales speaks to the Greater Cleveland Board of Directors on December 12, 2017

“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.’”

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Red Cross volunteer Angel Morales

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.

Thanks For Giving

A Thanksgiving Message from CEO Mike Parks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I will soon sit down for what I know will be a wonderfully delicious and far too filling turkey dinner with family and friends.  Yes—we have so much for which to be thankful—something that comes top of mind this time of year.  One of the many special things about working for the Red Cross is I get to see things for which to be grateful all year round—including the last three months.

This past three months have been nothing short of amazing.  The American Red Cross launched wide-ranging relief efforts to help people devastated by a historic hurricane season, deadly wildfires in California, and mass shooting incidents in Las Vegas and Texas.  Since Mid-August, the Red Cross has:

  • Provided 1.3 million overnight stays
  • Served more than 10.5 million meals and snacks, and
  • Distributed more than 6 million emergency relief items

In Northeast Ohio, we:

  • Deployed 119 volunteers and staff to support disaster operations as well as all four of our emergency response vehicles
  • Welcomed more than 100 new volunteers into our Red Cross family
  • Installed 7,262 free smoke alarms through the Home Fire Campaign, making 2,732 households safer.

This photo was taken in Puerto Rico, and shows Northeast Ohio COO Jorge Martinez negotiating a mud-covered road to deliver water to residents of Yauco.

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All of these things were accomplished while your American Red Cross continued to prevent and alleviate human suffering right here in Northeast Ohio, responding to home fires and other calamities.  Thank you to all of you for your support of time, talent, and treasure.  Yes—Northeast Ohio raised literally millions of dollars to support Red Cross relief efforts—thank you!!

I hope you each get a chance to spend some quality time with family & friends, enjoying fantastic food, watching fun football, and taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect on those many things for which we’re thankful and grateful.  Thank you again for all you do…Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Best regards…Mike

Editor’s note: Dozens of volunteers and donors from across the Northeast Ohio Region gathered at Regional Headquarters in Cleveland on Tuesday, November 21, for a “Thanks for Giving” celebration, in appreciation for their sacrifices and service to the Red Cross during the past several months.  A photo album of the event can be viewed by clicking here.