This week we will be featuring a few of our dedicated Home Fire Preparedness volunteers going above and beyond to make this community a safer place.
Since 1993, Howard has volunteered for the Red Cross in public relations, health and safety and disaster services.
“When someone told me about Red Cross, I immediately thought that all they do is teach CPR, First Aid, and lifeguarding,” he said. “I was a little hesitant, but my friend motivated me to join. I started out doing public relations, handing out flyers and pamphlets at health fairs, street fairs. And then from there I became a First Aid/CPR instructor.”
After joining the Red Cross, Howard found reasons to stay, and to further explore his role.
“I liked the camaraderie, the people, the various departments that we could merge into. There are a lot of different roles, and if you find one role that doesn’t quite fit you, there’s always a role that might be a better fit. It’s just like shoes and clothes.”
Howard says the reason he’s so dedicated to #GetAlarmedNYC is simple: “It’s the mission of the program – to keep people safe, and to educate people. Things in the apartment or in the house can be replaced, but if you lose a family member or a pet, having memories isn’t enough,” he adds. “The more lives we can save by educating and preventing, the better off they’ll be and their neighbors will be.”
He encourages everyone to try out volunteering for the Red Cross.
“If you like to talk, or if you’re a teacher, it will be a perfect fit because it’s a great chance to educate and teach people about the program. And if you’re someone who’s a little shy, and doesn’t like to speak in public, this is your chance to overcome it. It’s not really a classroom setting, or a big auditorium. It’s kind of like going to your friend’s house. And like any type of volunteer work, it’s very rewarding.”
Hugh came to the Red Cross like many other volunteers: a little unexpectedly. “A friend of mine had started volunteering, and he was not able to fulfill his obligation,” Hugh said. “So I decided to fill in.”
Hugh is an ambassador for #GetAlarmedNYC, giving presentations and cultivating relationships with other organizations. He created a partnership with Meals On Wheels in Staten Island, which serves meals to 1,200 homes every day. Now these visits can double as opportunities for fire safety education and smoke/carbon monoxide detector installation.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” he said. “I am 100% dedicated to this, and we won’t stop.”
He makes regular presentations to parents at PTA meetings, encouraging them to sign up.
“I also am on the fundraising campaign for Staten Island Mental Health Society, so I’ve been able to contact them to offer installations to the families there.”
Ask Hugh what keeps him motivated, and he jumps in before you’ve finished the question: “It’s the need of the people,” he says. “It’s our obligation as human beings to make sure that these are accessible to everybody. This isn’t for the privileged, this is for everybody.”
Hugh is also recruiting volunteers from his alma mater, Empire State College.
“Your reward is the gratitude. When you’re leaving the house, people bend over backwards thanking you. It so far outweighs the dedication we put into the job. After your first install, you’ll see it automatically and it’ll drive you to come back.”