On November 14th, early on a Saturday morning, while most people were sleeping in or planning where to go for brunch, a group of teenagers from a local high school in El Monte gathered at Mountain View Park, preparing to go out and save lives as part of a multi-year Red Cross initiative called the Home Fire Campaign.
As many know, the campaign, which aims to reduce home fires in America in 25%, is fueled by the inspiration and commitmentof Red Cross trained volunteers who donate their time and go door to door installing free life-saving smoke alarms and providing critical fire-safety information to communities affected by home fires. What many don’t know is that many of them are Red Cross Youth Club members -- young men and women that trade a morning of video games, social media or TV for hours of community service.
As such, Cathy Huynh, president of the El Monte High School Red Cross Youth Club, and as many as ten of her peers were proud to join their second or third campaign. This one was even more meaningful: once they showed up at Red Cross basecamp at the park, they learned that just a few blocks away a home fire had occurred, killing two adults. Joining her, were juniors and seniors like Luke Ngyuyen, Johnny Tran, Kristy Ngo and Kyle Tran.
Luke, a serious young man with an adult-like demeanor, pointed out, “It’s more about an individual calling for me than a college application”, adding “I can’t think of anything better to do than coming to help save lives.” Cathy Huynh, their Youth Club leader,explained, “Going out into the community and interacting with Red Cross volunteers, and servicing families and individuals was an incredible opportunity to develop social and real life skills.”
Mauricio Ortiz, a Red Cross volunteer that has been on more than 10 home fire campaign across the Los Angeles Region was impressed when working with Cathy’s team. “I felt really supported “, he said. Ortiz also taught them some useful Spanish tips when introducing themselves to Latino families at the door. “I practiced my Spanish too. It was cool”, added Kyle Tran with a smile.