By Chuck Victor, 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)
Throughout my adult years I have had a passion for volunteerism and helping others. I prefer the behind the scenes work as opposed to the out front spokesperson.
During my working years, I had the opportunity to work with some great non-profit organizations and their boards; which taught me the value of the front line volunteer.
I was fortunate to retire at an early age but not yet ready to retire from being active. I had a colleague who I had always admired for their drive, commitment and dedication to the American Red Cross. I inquired as to how I could serve local needs through Red Cross.
That was over four years ago. Today I apply my time and talents as a Local Disaster Action Team (DAT) Lead in responding to fires, shelter situations and unfortunately plane crashes. As part of a team of initial responders to a disaster scene, I am able to help provide assistance to both those affected as well as first responders.
The job DAT members do is, as they say, priceless. We provide needed comfort and necessary reassurance to those who have just experienced tragedies that most hope they will never see. It goes beyond the monetary value of the financial assistance provided for housing and immediate needs. The greatest value comes from a listening ear and a caring heart. Victims of fires, floods, storms and other such disasters appreciate someone who can hear what they say, even if they don’t have the words to express themselves. We provide direction and re-assurance.
Likewise, I am grateful for the opportunity to support our first responders by offering a hot cup of coffee or a snack when they need to know that their efforts are appreciated. I always make sure to thank them for their service and to remind them to be safe. Too often, they are taken for granted.
Why would anyone want to get a call at 2:30 in the morning and get out of bed on a cold winter night to respond to a fire and a family displaced? Trust me, when I say the reward derived from helping someone in need at his or her worst moment far exceeds the minor inconvenience of losing a little sleep.
Volunteer Chuck Victor providing assistance to first responders at the scene of a plane crash in Akron, November, 2015
Disaster Action Team may not be your thing, But I would urge anyone with time on his or her hands and a desire to serve others to consider volunteering with the American Red Cross. Many great opportunities are available.
(Chuck Victor has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for more than four years. He is a resident of Tallmadge, and serves residents in the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties 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.