Thursday, June 23, 2016

Daniel Lopez's Red Cross Journey

Money does not equate to happiness. Although said often, not many of us take the risk to test this theory. Daniel Lopez took that risk. With Buffalo, New York as the destination, Daniel left Puerto Rico to seek out new beginnings with only seven dollars in his pocket.

However, not too long before, Daniel had much more than just seven dollars. Daniel lived a luxurious life making a living as an accountant. He had the opportunity to increase his salary by accepting a managerial position at his father’s accounting firm. Daniel denied. Instead, he decided that, at age 50, it was time to make change and leave Puerto Rico with absolutely no assistance from his family.

In January 2016, Daniel began his journey to Buffalo. During the commute, Daniel befriended a man who was struggling with a substance abuse problem. Himself 11 years sober, Daniel’s kind and open heart sympathized with the man. A few seats a way, a woman sat listening intently to Daniel’s attempts to coax the man to remain sober. Inspired, she made it her duty to establish Daniel in his new life.
Daniel Lopez talking to a homeowner
about the Home Fire Campaign during
the City of Buffalo's Clean Sweep

Once he arrived in Buffalo, that woman directed Lopez to a rescue mission that provided him with meals. To show his gratitude, he volunteered to serve breakfast every morning. Afterwards, he would teach young children English at the library, without charge. Daniel had a revelation- he had a passion for helping people. Fortunately, this led to Daniel’s introduction to the American Red Cross, and more importantly to the community.

On average, seven people die in a house fire every day across the country. With this appalling statistic, the Red Cross needs volunteers like Daniel Lopez to educate the public on the severity of house fires with the Home Fire Campaign.

Part of the Home Fire Campaign includes Major Byron Brown’s Clean Sweep, a weekly outreach program that targets an at-risk neighborhood in the City of Buffalo. Many companies and organizations partner together to provide resources and services to those in need. A Red Cross volunteer advises residents on the precautionary measures one should take to lessen the likelihood of being a victim of a house fire. This includes informing them that the Red Cross offers free smoke alarms that are installed personally by an Red Cross volunteer. Daniel explained, “Maybe they don’t need smoke alarms, but we are telling the community that the American Red Cross is there for them.”
Daniel Lopez presents the Pillowcase Project
to students

In the short months that Daniel has been active as an AmeriCorps working with the Red Cross, he has impacted hundreds of people with his ability to speak fluently in Spanish and English, but more significantly with his zest for teaching. 

“There is something special about seeing a difference,” Daniel explained when speaking about The Pillowcase Project, a Disney-funded program that educates elementary level students on how to be prepared during an emergency. Daniel continued, “These young children want to learn. They want to know how to be safe and prepared during an emergency.”

Daniel stated, “We are not working for a profit. We are working for a difference.” With a sincere disposition, Daniel confirmed that this is the happiest he has ever been. That being said, on behalf of the Red Cross, I invite you to let Daniel’s story inspire you. It is never too early or too late to start a new journey in your life. Become an American Red Cross volunteer by applying online on to see what difference you can make.

-Grace Carnall, Communications Intern
American Red Cross, WNY Chapter