At 9:45 on a Saturday morning in March, I received a call from our volunteer dispatcher. I quickly assembled our team of volunteers at the Red Cross and headed to the fire. When we arrived on the scene, there were already several fire engines, ladders, and dozens of firefighters trying hard to control the flames. Scanning the sea of bright red trucks, I was immediately struck by a young couple standing in the street. The man was in a bathrobe and baseball cap and his wife wore pajamas with no shoes on. They were holding on to each other tightly, shivering and silently staring as their belongings burned.
I approached them to let them know that the Red Cross had arrived and offered our assistance. It was sunny that morning, but windy and bitterly cold. Water from the hoses splashed those walking by and pooled on the sidewalks. The woman, Sarah, was pregnant and struggling to walk barefoot on the freezing wet asphalt. Her husband Charles, still only in his robe, bent over for her to climb up on his back. I nearly choked up. Fire is a destructive force; it had torn their home apart, but Charles and Sarah banded together in the face of their disaster.
We were able to give Sarah some slippers to wear as well as diapers for their one year old twins and a coloring book to entertain their 3-year-old. They were thankful and gracious, never complaining. Even though they had lost so much, they were grateful that their neighbors had awoken them in time to save themselves and their children.
I am so grateful to be a part of an organization that helps families through their hardest moments, and to all of the donors who enable the American Red Cross to make such a visible difference in our community. Thank you for your support!
-Joanna Ross, Disaster Action Team volunteer