Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Putting things into perspective

The Red Cross is an incredible organization that does amazing work, but for those of us fortunate enough to work here, there are days when it presents the same frustrations as any other job. Unlike other places, however, the Red Cross often snaps you back into reality and reminds you why we work so hard for our communities.

Sunday morning, our Buffalo DAT volunteers responded to two separate fires in Orchard Park and on Fillmore Ave in the City. The latter was an especially difficult situation, as a seven-year-old lost his life in the fire. Such tragedies unfortunately heighten the media interest, and Sunday afternoon I received a call from a local television station looking for more information on how the Red Cross is helping the family deal with this unthinkable situation. Because our volunteers were no longer on the scene and my wife had gone to the movies, the reporter came to my house. Doing an interview from your front step about a fire that claimed a seven-year-old while your own seven-year-old is watching intently from the window really puts things into perspective. I can't begin to imagine what this family is going through, but I am so proud to be a small part of an organization that brings some hope and comfort to these neighbors and countless others like them each day.

Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. In the first three months of 2014, there have been ten fire deaths in the 17 counties that make up our Western New York/Finger Lakes Region. In an effort to change those statistics, the Red Cross is hosting eight "Team Firestoppers" events across the Region this Saturday. Working with Project Paradigm and the Children's Fire & Burn Fund, volunteers will be providing people in high-risk communities with potentially lifesaving fire safety and emergency preparedness information. We'll also be providing 800 free smoke detectors to help make these families safer. If we can help prevent even just one tragic story like those above, it will be well worth the effort.