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Neighbors Helping Neighbors


On a rainy morning, American Red Cross volunteers Hope Koestner, LPN and Joe Ulrich are delivering medical assistance and mental health services to residents of Nashville. As they walk through this particular neighborhood, which was damaged extensively by flood waters, they realized quickly that they need a translator; few residents speak English. Luckily, one of the first doors they knocked on was the home of Nancy and Ernesto Gomez and their ten-year old son Daniel. Daniel is bi-lingual and is able to help his family by translating their needs. Nancy then offered to have Daniel go around the neighborhood with Koestner and Ulrich as they assist others.

While going door to door, Koestner learned that the Gomez family had already been helping neighbors by allowing their son to translate for other families. They also cooked for some neighbors who lost all of their belongings and brought supplies to help the cleanup process after floods ravished the homes. They came out to the Red Cross distribution site and helped load water, Clorox bleach, and clean-up kits into the cars of those affected.

Koestner emotionally stated, “I couldn’t believe that this family was so caring, they went out of their way to care for others in need. If I can find one thing, like this family, during a disaster, I know it touched someone’s life. I know that is why I came to help.” When asked why they felt compelled to help others, Mrs. Gomez said, “It’s the right thing to do. In just a matter of hours the river came up and destroyed people’s homes, we had to help.”

Joe Ulrich, mental health volunteer, commented that Daniel “was such a help, he helped us key into people with medical issues and allowed me to help residents during this traumatic time. Without him, we probably wouldn’t have been successful in providing the level of service that they needed.”

Mr. Gomez added that Daniel is “a very smart boy, we hope to show him an attitude of service to others, we want him to learn to help others.” He also shared that he feels very proud that Daniel was able to translate for those in need. Daniel said that being able to help those in his neighborhood “makes me feel like somebody, someone special and I hope the people will get new things and courage to rebuild their lives.”