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Respect Turns to Love for Milwaukee Disaster Volunteers

Bob and Beth
He really was compassionate towards people and I always wanted that

Bob Wade of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, felt a call to serve others but didn’t know what to do. One day while browsing local news sites, Wade stumbled across an American Red Cross ad that would change his life forever.

The ad prompted Wade to join the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team. As a disaster responder, Wade takes shifts, mostly overnight, and leaves the comfort of his home to provide emergency services to people affected by a disaster. However, during a summer storm in 2009, while Wade focused on helping people, Cupid focused on Wade.

It was one of the worst storms in recent memory. Wade and a new trainee, Beth Tambornino, responded to multiple calls for help. Their first fire response was not too far from the Red Cross offices in Milwaukee. City streets flooded and cars floated away. Lightning strikes triggered house fires. Wade calls it “bedlam.” It felt like Mother Nature had the city under attack.

“If you saw what we saw, you saw Milwaukee coming apart at the seams. We were driving from fire to flood. Lightening non-stop,” recalls Wade. The city survived. Victims recovered but life would never be the same for Wade and his trainee. They bonded over their shared desire to serve their community. In time, mutual respect turned to love.

“He really was compassionate towards people and I always wanted that,” says Tambornino. “The way he treats others is the way he’s going to treat you probably.” Throughout the past year, both have had plenty of disaster experiences as the American Red Cross in Southeastern Wisconsin responded to over 415 incidents and continues to respond every day and night. Looking back on all of the emergencies, disasters, and calls they have been on Wade can only say “sometimes good comes from bad”, as he smiles at Tambornino.

Wade and Tambornino have set a date for their wedding.

Tags: Volunteer.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.