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Red Cross volunteer leads teams in time of disasters

I had always been waiting to get involved with an effort like this and give something back to the community, said Mr. Burns.

From professional boxer to Red Cross Disaster Action Team Leader, volunteer Ernest Burns is referred to by many as a true community hero. Born in Waynesboro, this Georgia native has been a Miami resident since the age of four, living life to the fullest.

Mr. Burns, 70, grew up raising and providing for his eight younger siblings due to their father’s death. So it was only a matter of time until he acquired a natural instinct to help others and become a leader.

In 1978, after boxing professionally for 16 years, Mr. Burns retired from the sport. His efforts in the boxing world did not go unrecognized. Aside from all the awards and accomplishments, Mr. Burns was inducted into the Afro-American Encyclopedia.

One day, while working as a messenger for Wells Fargo, he heard a Red Cross ad on the radio seeking more volunteers.

“I had always been waiting to get involved with an effort like this and give something back to the community,” said Mr. Burns.

Mr. Burns is currently representing Brownsville in the Community Action Agency committee, vice-chairman at Model City Crime and part of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also proudly attends Wactor Temple AME Zion Church with his wife of 51 years, Mary, and their four children, where he is also the church’s trusty chairman.

Aside from all those organizations, Mr. Burns is also a Disaster Action Team Leader. He leads his group to help people in need after a disaster occurs, like single family house fires, which is the most common type of disaster in our country today. He has been an avid contributor to the Red Cross and all the other organizations for over 34 years.

“When I came into the Red Cross, I was pleased by the trust they gave me,” he said. “We volunteers get as much respect as a staff person. We are all treated the same.”

If you are interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit or contact your local chapter. Volunteers are the foundation of the Red Cross, comprising approximately 90% of the workforce. Our volunteers are the presence of the Red Cross in the communities they serve.

HOW YOU CAN HELP You can call, click or text to make a donation today. Please consider making a donation by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.