Pictured Above: Taffy and Saul Hoffman
Editor's note: This tribute was posted on the Red Cross Disaster Facebook page by volunteer Bill Fitler. It is shared with his permission.
Saul Hoffman passed away July 3, 2013. Saul was one of my teachers when I first came to the Red Cross. He and his wife Taffy lived on the edge of the wilds in Ben Lomond, and they gave generously of their time to build the community's preparedness for the inevitable disasters that come along.
Saul helped create a mobile and rapid response Disaster Action Team (DAT), which was able to deploy a trailer of supplies anywhere needed within Santa Cruz County (back in the days when we had fewer cached supplies).
With the experience gained deploying to numerous local and national disasters, he tuned our Chapter's disaster response plan for a variety of contingencies. He organized team and chapter-wide drills that helped us build our skills and come together as a team when disasters happened.
Saul became one of my Red Cross mentors and role models. One of my favorite moments with Saul was when we were responding to a large fire in Watsonville, and were tasked with making sure we had accounted for all of the disaster's victims. As we approached the Incident Commander (IC), Saul gave me a little push and suggested that I talk with the IC. It being my first time, I was a bit nervous - but it helped me appreciate the partnership that the Red Cross enjoys and relies on with first responders. After I had finished talking with the IC and walked away, I looked back to see Saul chatting with him like the old friends they were.
While I often struggle in the gray sky heat of a disaster or the blue sky challenge of organizational change, Saul's biggest lesson for me was the importance of the relationships we develop with those who work to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Saul was a worker, a teacher, a mentor, a partner, and a friend - and he will be missed by those who were lucky enough to have known him.