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CNY Board Members Lead by Example

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We wanted to educate ourselves, be able to understand the impact the Red Cross has in the community

“This is a great program. I can’t believe your phone isn’t ringing off the hook!”

Monroe Grassi of Canastota, NY was thrilled to learn that the American Red Cross could install free smoke alarms in his home. As soon as he and his wife Patricia learned about the Home Fire Campaign from the Madison County Office for the Aging, they began to spread the word.

“No charge, that’s a real plus when you’re on a fixed income,” Grassi said.

Three of the volunteers who visited the Grassis and two other Madison County families on Friday, July 31to install smoke alarms and provide fire safety information normally support the Red Cross in another way. Joanna Ferguson, Rob Just and Renae Rokicki are members of Central New York Chapter’s Board of Directors.

“The Campaign was presented to us at a Board meeting, and it sounded neat,” said Just. “This is a great service for homeowners. I took the day off to do this!”

“As Board members, we don’t always have the opportunity to provide service at ground level,” added Rokicki. On Friday, she and Ferguson helped families put together an escape plan, while Just and AmeriCorps member Casey Pfeiffer installed the smoke alarms.

“This is a good way for people in the community to give back,” said Ferguson. “As Board members, we wanted to educate ourselves, be able to understand the impact the Red Cross has in the community.” 

Frank Stech had first-hand experience with how important the work of our volunteers can be. While Just and Pfeiffer were installing new smoke alarms in his Cazenovia home, Stech remembered when his neighbors lost their home to a fire when he was growing up in the ‘60s.

“The Red Cross was there, first on the scene to help those nine kids and their mother,” he said. “I know the importance of this. I wasn’t as interested in the free alarms as I was in learning where we should put them.”

Through education and ensuring homes have working smoke alarms, the Home Fire Campaign aims to reduce fire related deaths and injuries across the country by 25% over the next five years. Contact your local Chapter for more information or to schedule an appointment (in Central New York, email or call 315-234-2299). The volunteers that come to your door just may be Red Cross Board members, like Rob Just.

“This has been a lot of fun. I definitely want to do it again!”