Before 1993, Axel Miranda used to think that the American Red Cross only offered CPR classes and collected blood donations. The Army medic’s perception changed in 1993 when the Red Cross contacted him at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs to tell him that his mother and sister were in a terrible car accident.
“Red Cross reached out to me and got me home to be with my family,” Miranda said. “It was a special organization. I couldn’t believe the Red Cross helped soldiers.”
Twenty years later, Miranda got involved with the Red Cross again, but this time as the director for New Jersey State of Government Affairs. After being on the job for two months, Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey and New York coasts.
“I feel everything I have done so far prepared me for this point. My time with the Army, the ER as a trauma tech., followed by the many years in the nonprofit sector and in government relations got me ready for Red Cross, for Hurricane Sandy,” he said.
In the days after Sandy struck, Miranda served as the liaison between the leadership at the local Red Cross, elected officials for the state of New Jersey and Red Cross National Headquarters. It was an incredibly busy time. He was in constant contact with 565 mayors, 120 state-elected officials, the governor and his senior staff and cabinet, the state police and Homeland Security, 12 members of Congress and two U.S. Senators.
One day Miranda and Red Cross North Jersey Regional CEO Mathieu Nelessen were touring the shelter at Rutgers University while waiting for the First Lady of New Jersey to arrive. They were talking to the shelter manager when a little girl with a “monitor” badge caught his eye. According to the shelter manager, the 9-year-old was a house monitor. She would check on the senior citizens, say hello, offer them water and make sure they were okay. Miranda later learned that the little girl and her family lost their home to the hurricane.
“Here is this incredible little girl, in the middle of this disaster, being a source of comfort to others. She was the Red Cross mission in action,” Miranda recalled. “Who knows what her future holds, but she embodies hope and the human spirit.”
Miranda continues to serve on the Sandy Recovery Committee and was recently appointed to serve as the Co-Sponsor of the Red Cross National Latino Team Member Resource Group. He is also instrumental in the partnerships between Red Cross and the National Council of La Raza and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
He encourages Latinos to reach out to their local Red Cross to learn more. “Get involved. There are so many myths about who are, what we do and who we help. Discover who we are. It can possibly save your life,” Miranda said.